Monday, March 23, 2009

The Big Hoss hangs 'em up

Curt says it here ( and Surviving Grady reacts here (

Curtis Montague Schilling, who pitched for 19 seasons for 5 major league teams, announced his retirement today. Schilling, who pitched for 3 World Champions, won 216 games in his major league career, albeit with phenomenal, unearthly postseason numbers that are not included in that total, putting him, should be be elected, into the bottom half of the Hall of Fame in that category.

Schilling was an avid blogger and caller to sports radio talk shows, and got as much attention towards the end of his baseball career for his opinions as he did for his play. He avidly supported John McCain in the 2008 Presidential election, and was deeply devoted to his Christianity and his charity work, notably his work to defeat ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). He named his son Gehrig after the late Yankee as well.

Red Sox fans probably remember him best for Game Six of the 2004 American League Championship Series. People who haven't been following baseball for a while probably don't understand the Red Sox' relationship to the Yankees prior to 2004. The Yankees were the bully who always tormented you at school, the teacher whose class you couldn't pass, the coworker who won't let you get any credit. The Red Sox were picked on, put on, cast aside with the trash. The Yankees were better, richer, taller, had better looking girlfriends. What's worse, you knew it, they knew it, and you KNEW they knew it. They didn't even have to say anything-it was all in the dismissive look they gave you. You didn't scare them, because you didn't MATTER.

The 2004 ALCS started out awful for the Red Sox. Schilling, who had hurt his ankle towards the end of the regular season, got whipped in Game One. Pedro Martinez, the All World starter who had finally been showing signs of mortality in 2004, lost a close game in Game Two. Game Three was a disaster, a 19-8 Yankee smackdown. No team in the history of baseball, and only two teams in the history of sports, had come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a best of 7 series.

Game Four, the Red Sox came back to tie against the Greatest Reliever Who Ever Was, Mariano Rivera, and then won in 12 innings. Game Five, the Red Sox won in the 14th inning. No problem, right? Games Six and Seven to be played in Yankee Stadium. Surely no Yankee team could blow a 3-0 lead.

Now the Red Sox, spunky and resilient though they were, were simply out of pitchers. The bullpen had been ridden, and ridden HARD. Schilling, who had been judged out of action after the Game One disaster, is given the ball. The team doctor stitches his ankle together BEFORE THE GAME.

SO what does Curt Schilling do? In the chilly New York night, the wolves baying for blood, the man stands there on one leg and pitches 7 innings of one run baseball, leaving with a four run lead and blood on his sock. The Red Sox win Game Six, and then Game Seven, and the great Yankee beast is off of their backs forever.

Farewell, sir. I didn't like your politics, or your attitude at times, but as Hemingway said heroes do, you put your fear aside and did your job.


  1. I agree...he really was a hero. We need more people like that for kids to look up to. I'll miss him and remember the bloody sock for the rest of my life.

  2. As much as anyone can be in athletics, absolutely.

    He nearly destroyed his career, too-he was never the same pitcher after that.


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