Curt Schilling, who cemented his legacy while a key component to the Boston Red Sox World Series campaign of 2004, announced his retirement today after 23 seasons.
In his regular, and sometimes infamous blog, “38pitches”, Schilling wrote today, “This party has officially ended. After being blessed to experience 23 years of playing professional baseball in front of the world’s best fans in so many different places, it is with zero regrets that I am making my retirement official.”
During his illustrious career, the big guy won 3 World Series rings, one with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001 and two with the Red Sox, in 2004 and 2007. He finishes with a record of 216-146 and a career ERA of 3.46. He also finished with 3114 Ks, 14th on the all time list. None of that looks very compelling on face value. But, if you peel back a couple of layers of the onion, you find some very interesting things that all make for a strong Hall of Fame argument.
It’s true that Schilling never won a Cy Young Award, but he finished 2nd three times (’01, ’02, ’04). It’s also true that he never led the league in ERA, but again, came in 2nd twice (’01 and ’04). Those same two seasons, Schilling led the league in wins.
Always known as a work-horse, he led the league in innings pitched (267) and strikeouts (300) in ’98 with the Phillies. He also led the league in complete games that season (15).
He’s 2nd all time in baseball history in strikeout to walk ratio (4.38), and led the league in this category an amazing 5 times (’01-04, 06). The guy in first place, Tommy Bond, who pitched from 1874 – 1884.
Where Schilling really shined, however, was in the post-season. His 11-2 record is one of the best in baseball history, along with his 2.24 post-season ERA. He struck out 120 in 133 innings while only giving up 104 hits.
Schilling will best be remembered for his role in ending the 86-year drought and bringing a World Series Championship to the Boston Red Sox in 2004.
In game 6 of the ALCS against the Yankees, Sox team doctor Dr. Bill Morgan came up with a plan to temporarily fix Schilling’s ailing ankle that seriously affected him in game one of the ALCS, where he gave up 6 runs in three innings. Morgan sutured the tendon to the ankle bone, thus preventing it from moving and causing problems.
The results are what legends are made of: Schilling pitched 7 innings and gave up only 1 earned run on 4 hits with 4 Ks. All with blood seeping out of the wound onto his sock. This is now commonly referred to as “the bloody sock game”, and said sock is now in the Hall of Fame, where there is little doubt that its owner will join it one day.
This performance epitomized Schilling’s career, and galvanized his name in Red Sox lore, right next to Carlton Fisk’s epic 12th inning HR in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series. Yeah, it was that big.