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The 2022 BBWAA Hall of Fame voting is in, and lone electee David Ortiz wasn't the only former player making history on Tuesday.
Curt Schilling and Omar Vizquel, two of the most divisive players on quite possibly the most divisive ballot in the history of the Hall of Fame, saw historically unprecedented steps back in their voting for Cooperstown due to Schilling's litany of controversies and Vizquel's domestic violence and sexual harassment allegations.
In his 10th and final year on the ballot, Schilling fell back to 58.6 percent of available Hall of Fame votes after receiving 70 percent in 2020 and 71.1 percent in 2021 (just 16 votes shy of the 75 percent threshold required for enshrinement). Vizquel went from 52.6 percent in 2020 and 49.1 percent in 2021 all the way down to 23.9 percent.
Per The Athletic's Jayson Stark, Vizquel's fall is the largest ever seen since the Hall moved to annual voting in 1966, while no player had ever seen a drop like Schilling's after clearing 65 percent in the voting.
The results will officially close the door to Cooperstown via traditional means for Schilling and all but do the same for Vizquel, who has five remaining years on the ballot.
Curt Schilling got his wish
Schilling's fall is hardly surprising, as he himself requested that he be taken off the BBWAA ballot this year, then asked for writers not to vote for him when he remained on the ballot.
The online quarrels that got Schilling in this situation hardly need much introduction. The former Boston Red Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks great already carried a certain reputation after a veer into far-right politics, a tweet advocating for journalists to be lynched, a collection of Nazi memorabilia, a disastrous foray into video game production that ended up costing Rhode Island millions of dollars, a tweet equating Muslim extremists to Nazis and a transphobic meme that got him fired from ESPN.
Despite all of those stories, Schilling still got 71.1 percent of the vote last year. The last straw for the voters, apparently, was an endorsement of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot that reportedly saw some voters try to take him off their 2021 ballots.
Perhaps sensing that 2022 would be less successful than 2021, Schilling released a statement requesting his case become a matter for the Hall's Era Committees:
“I will not participate in the final year of voting. I am requesting to be removed from the ballot. I’ll defer to the veterans committee and men whose opinions actually matter and who are in a position to actually judge a player. I don’t think I’m a hall of famer as I’ve often stated but if former players think I am then I’ll accept that with honor.”
Schilling might not have to wait long for his case to be heard again. The Today's Game committee that considers players from 1988 to the present will cast their votes in December for the Class of 2023, though the candidates for that ballot have yet to be revealed.
In the meantime, Schilling barely even acknowledged his snub on Twitter after the results were announced, instead congratulating Ortiz.
Every year the conversation revolves around who didn’t get in. Like all star voting, who got cheated. I say it every year and especially this year, focus on who did get in. @davidortiz deserved a 1st ballot induction! Congratulations my friend you earned it! #bigpapiHoF
— Curt Schilling (@gehrig38) January 25, 2022
Without the above controversies, it seems quite likely Schilling would already be in Cooperstown. His regular season numbers alone more than align with the average Hall of Fame starting pitcher according to the venerable JAWS stat, while his postseason success, particularly his 2001 World Series MVP run and bloody sock moment in 2004, has already carved him out a spot in baseball lore.
Omar Vizquel's chances at Hall effectively done
Unlike Schilling, Vizquel was not on a clear track for enshrinement before the negative stories started coming, but he still had a chance.
When he first hit the ballot, Vizquel's case was an odd one. It was basically built on defense and longevity, with Vizquel having earned 11 Gold Gloves at shortstop in 24 seasons. Where the former shortstop did not shine was offense. His 82 OPS+ (a stat adjusting OPS for era and ballpark) would have made him one of the weakest bats to ever enter Cooperstown. He also wasn't exactly considered a Hall of Fame talent during his career, with only two All-Star nods and one year receiving even one MVP vote.
Above all, Vizquel was regarded as a good guy well-liked by many reporters. That may have been enough to eventually get him in, but that reputation effectively ended in Dec. 2020, when Vizquel's wife accused him of years of domestic abuse. He took a further hit in 2021 when an autistic minor league batboy sued him for allegedly sexually harassing him during his time as manager of the Birmingham Barons.
It would be nearly unprecedented for a player to reach 50 percent of the vote, as Vizquel did in 2020, and not make it into the Hall of Fame, be it through the BBWAA or committee. Vizquel's fall from grace is already unprecedented, though, and it's hard to see his numbers ever getting him close to Cooperstown again.