It’s hard to think of a baseball player I revile more than Curt Schilling. I became a Yankees fan in 2001. And thanks to the tandem of Schilling, Randy Johnson and Luis Gonzalez, I missed out on my team’s reign of greatness.
And Schilling wasn’t done ruining my childhood. While Randy Johnson would eventually join the Yankee family, Schilling signed with the Red Sox instead and helped them break the curse of the Bambino.
Unfortunately, Schilling’s new Boston ties were not enough for him to endorse John Kerry’s 2004 Presidential campaign. Schilling endorsed George W. Bush’s re-election bid, establishing himself as baseball’s leading conservative voice. Over the years, Schillings’ political views have become a more and more prominent part of his identity. And now he’s had the chance to advocate for a president far more polarizing than even Bush.
One-time long shots, like Mike Mussina, Edgar Martinez and Larry Walker, have leap-frogged Schilling in hall of fame vote totals. There can be little doubt at this point that Schilling’s political views are what have kept him out of Cooperstown.
Yanks Go Yard’s own Adam Weinrib recently argued that it was good that Schilling’s views have blocked his induction. Part of me is inclined to agree. Hall of Fame voters are encouraged to look at character, and, no matter how normalized the Republican party and its last leader are, plenty of what they stand for is violent and objectionable.
What troubles me, however, is the realization that we progressive baseball fans are able to enjoy this game in part because we live in a veil of ignorance. Truthfully, we don’t know much about the political views of most players. While I’d like to think that Schilling’s views are uniquely odious, his real problem may be that he opened his mouth, while others like him stay silent.
The New York Times’ 2020 exit poll found that 70% of non-college-educated white male voters went for Trump. For white men in general, that number falls to 61%.
None of the white players currently on the Yankee roster were born in big cities. None have obvious nuances in their identities (being LGBT, being Jewish, etc), that would predispose them to voting Democrat. Seven were born in red states, and six were born in areas currently represented by Republican members of congress.
As a leftist Yankee fan, I’ll admit it gives me schadenfreude to watch normally apolitical sportswriters, coming together to censure a Red Sox’ right-wing views. But I also can’t take this view too seriously as a moral stand. While it would be wrong to make presumptions about any given individual, the odds are high that the Yankees have at least one Curt Schilling within their ranks. As a fan, I’m stuck hoping this theoretical player stays silent and/or doesn’t reveal himself as one of my favorites.
It’s possible I’m being too pessimistic. Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery both hinted their support for the Black Lives Matter movement on Instagram. And (now ex-Yankee) Adam Ottavino volunteered with the Players’ Alliance .
For now, I’ll hold onto the hope that Schilling is an aberration. But until more baseball players start to talk about their politics (and that’s an if, not a when), Curt Schilling’s Hall of Fame fight represents the beginning, not the peak, of what could be a very awkward and incoherent conversation.