Curt Schilling Interested In Ted Kennedy’s Senate Seat

Retired baseball star Curt Schilling announced last week that he’s potentially interested in filling the seat vacated by the death of Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy. Schilling has a keen interest in politics – he campaigned for President Bush, rallied voters for former presidential candidate Jon McCain and told Boston radio station WRKO in 2007 that running for office is “something my wife and I have talked about a couple of times.”

It would interesting to see how Schilling would fare should he decide to run. He’s achieved folk hero status in New England for the way he pitched with an injured ankle in the 2004 World Series. But whether that popularity would carry over in a state that takes politics very seriously remains to be seen.

Athletes turning to politics after their playing careers isn’t anything new. Some have fared better than others. A few examples…

  • NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver Steve Largent, a seven-time Pro Bowler who held most major NFL receiving records when he retired in 1989. Largent served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1994 until 2002 and unsuccessfully ran for Oklahoma governor in 2002.
  • NBA Hall of Famer Bill Bradley. During his career, Bradley won two NBA titles with the New York Knicks and was also a three-time All-American at Princeton, where he was named the 1965 National Player the Year. Bradley served in the U.S. Senate for 18 years beginning in 1978. In 2000, the New Jersey senator unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic presidential nomination.
  • Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne. The legendary coach, who led Nebraska to three National Championships and retired with a record of 255-49-3, was elected to Congress in 2000 and served six years in the United States House of Representatives from Nebraska’s 3rd congressional district. He unsuccessfully ran for governor in 1996, a defeat which surprised quite a few people given Osborne’s tremendous popularity throughout Nebraska.
  • NFL Hall of Famer Lynn Swann, who was a key member of the three-time Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers of the 1970’s. He was a three-time Pro Bowler and was named MVP of Super Bowl X. In 2006, Swann unsuccessfully ran for Pennsylvania governor, losing to incumbent Ed Rendell by a 60-40 margin.
  • MLB Hall of Famer Jim Bunning, a 9-time All-Star who threw a perfect game in 1964. Bunning served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1987  – 1999. He then moved over to the Senate, where he is currently the sixth oldest U.S. Senator. He recently announced he will not seek re-election.
  • Former quarterback Jack Kemp, who led the Buffalo Bills to the two AFL titles in the 1964 and 1965. Kemp was a member of Congress from 1971 – 1989, was Bob Dole’s running mate in the 1996 presidential election and unsuccessfully ran for president in 1988.

It will be interesting to see what happens with Schilling, but I’m really looking forward to 2014, when NBA great Charles Barkley plans to run for governor in Alabama. If nothing else, I’m sure he’ll provide some interesting sound bites.

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