Bruins president Cam Neely on his buddy Larry Walker making the Baseball Hall of Fame: 'A long time coming'

Bruins president Cam Neely on his buddy Larry Walker making the Baseball Hall of Fame: 'A long time coming'

BOSTON – Cam Neely still remembers the time his buddy Larry Walker invited him to Fenway Park for batting practice when Walker was visiting in his baseball career and then saved him by snagging the line drive headed straight toward the unsuspecting Bruins power forward.

“I still remember him saying that when you hear the sound, it’s already too late,” said a smiling Neely.

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The Bruins president was overjoyed that his buddy from Maple Ridge, British Columbia, and former youth hockey teammate was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday.

“It’s a long time coming. I’ve always admired his career and thought he should have got in earlier. I’m happy for him and happy for his family,” said Neely.

"It’s a big deal being a Canadian. He’s just the second Canadian in so that’s pretty cool,” said Neely, referencing pitcher Ferguson Jenkins getting inducted into the Hall in 1991. “Growing up he was the goalie on my teams [in British Columbia]. Every other year, we’d be on the same team and I played some baseball with him. Then we went our separate ways [at] about 16 or 17 [years old].

“We always kept in touch. His older brother played goalie and played some pro hockey. They had a very sports-oriented family.”

Walker received 76.6 percent of the vote by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America in his 10th and final year on the ballot, narrowly surpassing the 75 percent required. Walker was a five-time All-Star and 1997 National League MVP with the Colorado Rockies (.366, NL-leading 49 homers, 46 doubles and a career-high 130 RBI). He was a career .313 hitter in 17 seasons, including 10 with Colorado and his first five-plus with the Montreal Expos.

Walker was also a three-time NL batting champion: .363 in '98, .379 in '99 and .350 in 2001 for the Rockies.

Curt Schilling misses out on Baseball Hall of Fame; Derek Jeter, Larry Walker in

Curt Schilling misses out on Baseball Hall of Fame; Derek Jeter, Larry Walker in

In his eighth year on the ballot, Curt Schilling again fell short of making it into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame announced their Class of 2020 on Tuesday night. Two players got in. Former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who was one vote shy of being a unanimous selection, and former Montreal Expos and Colorado Rockies outfielder Larry Walker, who just squeaked in with 76.6 percent of the vote in his final year on the ballot.

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Meanwhile, Schilling earned 70 percent of the vote to finish third in the voting. He finished 20 votes shy of the 75 percent threshold needed to qualify for the Hall.

Two other notable candidates with Red Sox ties, Roger Clemens and Manny Ramirez, didn't make the cut either. Here are the full results from the voting, per the BBWAA.

Schilling wasn't expecting to get in as a part of the 2020 class. He said as much on Twitter before the announcement while wishing luck to Walker and Jeter in the selection process.

Schilling had previously indicated that he wouldn't have a problem being left out and noted that strong players, like Luis Tiant, never quite made the cut for the Hall of Fame.

Still, Schilling has two years left on the ballot to qualify. And he was up 9.1 percent from his 2019 voting numbers (60.1 percent), so he is certainly trending in the right direction.

Perhaps 2021 will be the year for Schilling.

Curt Schilling on Hall of Fame: 'If I'm outside the Hall of Fame with Luis Tiant, I'm all right'

Curt Schilling on Hall of Fame: 'If I'm outside the Hall of Fame with Luis Tiant, I'm all right'

Curt Schilling is in his eighth year of eligibility for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Is this the year that he'll finally get in?

The former pitcher spent 20 years in the major leagues with the Baltimore Orioles, Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Boston Red Sox. He went 216-146 record, a 3.46 ERA, and 3,116 strikeouts (good for 15th most all-time) in his storied career. 

It's his postseason dominance (11-2, 2.23 ERA) that elevates Schilling's Hall candidacy. He's a three-time World Series winner, two of which came with the Red Sox, was a co-Series MVP with Randy Johnson in 2001 with the Diamondbacks and was named an All-Star six times.

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Despite his numbers, Schilling hasn't gotten into the Hall yet. While he may be inching closer to making the cut, he isn't counting on getting in with the 2020 class.

"I don't think I'm going to make it this year," Schilling told MLB Network's Bob Costas in a recent interview. "The trend has usually been that players will drop a certain amount of percentage between the public and the private ballots. And I don't think I'm high enough above that 75 [percent needed for election] for the tail-off not to get me."

Though Schilling doesn't think he'll get in, he's not worrying about it too much. And he's focusing on the fact that there are plenty of great players who never made the Hall of Fame, including another former Red Sox ace.

"There are also some pretty good people who aren't in the Hall of Fame," Schilling said. "If I'm outside the Hall of Fame with Luis Tiant, I'm all right."

Schilling does have a good point. There are plenty of great, deserving players that haven't made the cut for the Hall of Fame. He still has three more chances to get in, so perhaps his time will come.

And speaking of Tiant, there surely is a case for him to be a Hall of Famer. He went 229-172 with a 3.30 ERA in a 19-year career and also struck out 2,416 batters. Had the Red Sox gotten him a ring in 1975, perhaps he would've had a stronger case to get in.