Schilling gets Red Sox Hall call
March 28, 2012 Leave a comment
Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling only spent the final 4 of his 20 seasons pitching in the majors in a Red Sox uniform but he surely made those 4 seasons count. Schilling was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a trade following the 2003 season in which the Red Sox lost Game 7 of the ALCS to the Yankees. The Red Sox had a major league offense but needed serious upgrades in the pitching staff. Pedro Martinez had gone through the prime of his career with a host of decent to average #2 starters. Finally in Pedro’s 7th season with Boston the Sox acquired Schilling to pair with Martinez.
Schilling was automatically considered to be the savior of not just the Red Sox pitching staff but the entire team in 2004. He made his presence felt immediately when he shut down the Orioles for the Sox’ first win of the season two days after Pedro had been rocked by the revamped Baltimore lineup on national television. Schilling didn’t stop there and ended the season with an incredible 21-6 record with a 3.26 ERA and 203 strikeouts in 226 and 2/3 innings pitched. What was more amazing than the actual numbers was that Schilling was 37 years old and had spent the previous 13 years of his career in the National League. The Red Sox once again clinched the American League wild card and Schilling started Game 1 of the ALCS against the Angels in Anaheim. Things were going smooth for Schilling and the Red Sox in Game 1. The Sox won 9-3 behind Schilling’s 6 and 2/3 innings but Schilling tore a tendon sheath in his right ankle while covering 1st base and his status for Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees was uncertain.
Much to the delight of the Yankee Stadium faithful Schilling’s ankle hampered him in his Game 1 ALCS start. Schilling gave up 6 runs and couldn’t get out of the 4th inning. The Sox were down in the series 0-1 and would lose the next two to go into a 3 game hole and it looked as though Schilling wouldn’t be needed for the rest of the series. After starts from Derek Lowe and Pedro both resulted in extra inning wins in Boston the Sox went back to New York down 3-2. Schilling had his ankle tendons sutured (don’t ask me exactly what that means because I still don’t know). All I know is that it held his ankle up enough that he could pitch comfortably and gave the cool side effect of bloodying up his sock to not only give him a tough guy moment that would forever live in Boston sports lore but also a literal Red Sock. The Sox won the game 4-2 behind Schilling’s 7 innings of 2-run work. The Sox won game 7 and went on to the World Series where Schilling’s bloody sock made an encore in the Sox’ 6-2 game 2 win. Schilling went 6 innings and gave up a run on 4 hits. The Sox won the series in 4 games. Schilling had become the missing piece to a world championship, just as had been predicted by many pundits prior to the season.
Schilling’s ankle injuries spilled into the 2005 season and when he was finally healthy at the end of the season the Sox inexplicably scheduled him to pitch Game 4 of the ALDS against the White Sox, a game that never happened due to the Sox getting swept. Schilling returned to form in a healthy 2006 with a 15-7 record and a 3.97 ERA but the Sox failed to qualify for the post season. Schilling’s 2007 season was once again hampered by injury and he was limited to only 24 starts. He finished with a 9-8 record and a 3.87 ERA. He had help this time around however as Josh Beckett was pitching like a Cy Young candidate and Jon Lester came up and pitched well down the stretch. The Sox once again qualified for the postseason and Schilling once again flourished in October, going 3-0 in 4 starts. He gave up 8 runs in 24 innings and helped the Sox to their 2nd World Series title during his 4 year stint in Boston an achievement that was almost unthinkable when he was acquired. Schilling signed a contract for 2008 with the Red Sox but was never healthy enough to pitch and his last career start was his World Series start against the Rockies.
Schilling only spent 4 seasons in Boston but racked up 53 wins, 574 K’s and a 3.95 ERA in the regular season coupled with a 6-1 record with 29 Ks and 19 runs given up in 45 2/3 innings. Obviously not many pitchers could say that they have won multiple championships with the Red Sox in the last 90 years, as a matter of fact Mike Timlin would be the only other guy. Schilling was supposed to be the savior and that’s exactly what he became. The Red Sox won the World Series in both postseasons in which Schilling started a game. Personally he may have been a blowhard and over-opinionated but it’s what he did on the field that he will be remembered for. I don’t really care what his politics are regardless of his need to shove them down everyone’s throats at every turn. But what he did on the field was near magical. There may never be a greater Boston sports prop than the bloody sock. Schill may have only spent 4 years in a Red Sox uniform but he earned every penny and eventually a spot in the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame.