Curt Schilling, the former major league pitcher whose ESPN career ended when he was fired for controversial political comments, is “absolutely considering” a run for Congress in Arizona, news that President Donald Trump greeted with one word: “Terrific!”
Schilling, an outspoken conservative and Trump supporter who was fired by the sports network in 2016, grew up in Phoenix but identifies himself as a Massachusetts resident. He did not specify which district he was eyeing.
“Not ready to do any of that right now,” he wrote in an email to the Arizona Republic. “If/When things solidify I will but right now it’s something in the ‘I’m considering it’ stage.”
Trump welcomed the possibility that Schilling would run for office with a tweet. “Curt Schilling, a great pitcher and patriot, is considering a run for Congress in Arizona. Terrific! @foxandfriends,” he wrote.
Immigration seems to be paramount among the reasons Schilling is considering a political career and that would obviously attract Trump’s attention.
“The state is not the state I grew up in. Making Arizona citizens of EVERY Race, religion and sexual orientation 2nd class citizens to illegal immigrants is about as anti-American as it gets,” Schilling wrote. “When you have homeless veterans, children, and you’re spending tax dollars on people smuggling drugs and children across our border someone in charge needs their ass kicked.”
Schilling said in an interview over the weekend that his wife is “becoming more and more pumped” at the idea but the couple is “still quite a few discussions away” from making a decision to move to Arizona, where he pitched for the Diamondbacks from 2000-04.
“I haven’t said anything publicly, but I’m considering going back to Arizona and running for a congressional seat, one of the blue ones,” he told Armed American Radio’s Mark Walters on Sunday. “It’s something that my wife and I have talked about, and she’s now becoming more and more pumped at the potential. Obviously, we’re still quite a few discussions away, but yeah, it’s something we’re absolutely considering.”
Schilling has mulled a political career before. He considered a run for the Senate in Massachusetts, where, pitching with a bloody sock, he was a heroic star of the Boston Red Sox’s 2004 World Series victory. But he backed off running to fill the late Ted Kennedy’s seat in 2009 and decided not to challenge Elizabeth Warren in 2017.
Schilling retired from baseball in 2007 and worked as a commentator on ESPN’s baseball telecasts until the network ran out of patience with his unwillingness to temper controversial comments on social and political topics in April 2016. In the episode that finally doomed him at ESPN, he shared a Facebook meme about transgender issues that many found offensive. “ESPN is an inclusive company,” the network said in a statement explaining its decision that spring. “Curt Schilling has been advised that his conduct was unacceptable and his employment with ESPN has been terminated.”
He had been taken off ESPN’s baseball coverage in September 2015 after he shared a meme that compared extremism in the present-day Muslim world to Nazi Germany in 1940. Shortly after that, a filing with the Federal Election Commission showed that Schilling, while donating $250 to Ben Carson’s presidential campaign, had listed his employer as “ESPN (Not Sure How Much Longer)” and, under “Occupation,” he wrote, “Analyst (For Now Anyway).”
In March 2016, Schilling told a radio station that Hillary Clinton “should be buried under a jail somewhere,” in apparent violation of an ESPN policy on commentary relating to the presidential election. However, the network allowed the former pitcher to keep his position as an analyst on Monday baseball telecasts.
However, weighing in on the so-called bathroom laws enacted in several states in the manner that Schilling did apparently served as the last straw. He had shared a meme, presumably created by someone else, of a man in a wig and an unusual, tight outfit, adding a comment that made clear his feelings on the matter.
“A man is a man no matter what they call themselves,” Schilling wrote. “I don’t care what they are, who they sleep with, men’s room was designed for the penis, women’s not so much. Now you need laws telling us differently? Pathetic.”
After getting some backlash, Schilling took to his personal blog Tuesday to decry the “‘offended’ people” who, he wrote, “are full of crap.” The six-time MLB all-star added, “You frauds out there ranting and screaming about my ‘opinions’ (even if it isn’t) and comments are screaming for ‘tolerance’ and ‘acceptance’ while you refuse to do and be either.”
In a WEEI radio interview, he said he was “blindsided” by the reaction he got for sharing the meme.
“To be in a place where people actually believe I’m a racist or I’m transphobic says to me that something has gone horribly askew somewhere,” he told the “Dennis and Callahan” show, pointing out that the Facebook meme didn’t originate with him.
“That wasn’t my post,” he said of the meme. “I commented on that. … I replied to the post. I didn’t post that. I made a comment paraphrasing it would be people that go to the bathroom standing up use one, and people that go the bathroom sitting down use the other. That’s turned into somehow I’m transphobic. I don’t know.”
Schilling believes that his political views have kept him out of the Hall of Fame, something Trump echoed in January shortly after his appearance on a Fox show. “Curt Schilling deserves to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame,” Trump tweeted. “Great record, especially when under pressure and when it mattered most. Do what everyone in Baseball knows is right!”
That got an immediate, and grateful, response from Schilling, who tweeted, “Thank you Mr President! Do NOT give in on any of it! We are behind you!”
Since his playing career ended, Schilling has dealt with financial difficulties because of the collapse of his gaming company, 38 Studios. He lost $50 million and created a stir in Rhode Island, which had invested more than $75 million in the failed venture. Trying to recover some of that money, the state agreed to a $4.4 million settlement with the video game company. And Schilling underwent radiation and chemotherapy treatments when he was diagnosed with cancer that he attributed to his use of chewing tobacco.
“I brought this on myself,” Schilling told ESPN in 2014. “For the last two years I’ve had to stand in front of my wife and kids and explain to them, ‘I lost $50 million and my company went bankrupt, and it was all my fault.’ Then I had to stand in front of them and tell them, ‘I have cancer because I dipped.’
“They are conversations I wouldn’t wish on anyone.”