Monday, March 23, 2009

Curt Schilling Retires

Curt Schilling announced his retirement from Major League Baseball after 20 major league seasons on his blog 38 pitches.

Schilling signed a one year contract extension with the Boston Red Sox worth $8 million in 2008 but did not pitch due to a shoulder injury which resulted in surgery last June.

However, few in Boston seemed to mind as he helped the team win two World Series in 2004 and 2007.

I remember when Schilling did a Ford truck commercial before the 2004 season in which he was hitch hiking from Arizona to Boston "to end an 86-year-old curse." Hey, he backed up his word.

He is best remembered for having his ankle sutured and pitching with a bloody sock for 7 innings in Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS against the New York Yankees en route to a 4-2 victory. I saw the bloody sock at the Museum of Science during a National Baseball Hall of Fame touring exhibit last summer.

In addition to his two World Series rings with the Red Sox he also won one with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001 and also pitched in the 1993 World Series with the Philadelphia Phillies.

He won 216 games in his career including 20 or more games three times. Schilling never won a Cy Young Award. But he finished runner up three times placing second to Diamondbacks teammate Randy Johnson in 2001 and 2002 for the NL Cy Young as well as runner up for the 2004 AL Cy Young Award when he was bested by Johan Santana then of the Minnesota Twins. I saw Schilling win his 20th game that season. On September 16, 2004, Schilling and the Sox bested the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 11-4. How do I remember it? It was my 32nd birthday. They were also shooting film for Fever Pitch after the game but I opted for birthday dinner rather than stay on.

Schilling struck out 300 or more batters three times in his career and struck out 3,116 batters in his career. That's good enough for 15th on the all time list. Even more incredibly he only walked 711 batters. He and Fergie Jenkins are the only pitchers in major league history to strike out 3,000 batters while walking fewer than 1,000. Schilling's strikeout to walk ratio is the second best in major league history. Only Tommy Bond who pitched in the 19th century is better.

Schilling will be enshrined into Cooperstown although he might not get in on the first ballot although his three World Series rings will help him get votes. He, however, has not always had friendly relations with some members of the media and that might cost him.

He is also known for his political activism and that might also offend more liberally inclined baseball writers. Schilling campaigned for President Bush's re-election in 2004 while Red Sox owners John Henry and Tom Werner as well as Sox GM Theo Epstein campaigned for John Kerry.

In fact, when A-Rod slapped the ball out of Bronson Arroyo's glove in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS, Schilling was asked if it was a bush league play. Schilling quipped, "No, it was Kerry league." There were rumors he was going to challenge Kerry for his Senate seat in 2008 but opted to continue pitching.

Schilling also campaigned for John McCain in 2008 in New Hampshire. Schilling and McCain became friends when he pitched for the Diamondbacks.

This announcement does not surprise me. When I attended Game 5 of the 2008 ALCS between the Sox and Tampa Bay Rays, Schilling threw out the first pitch. He couldn't even get the ball to the plate. But that doesn't take away the enjoyment I had when I watched him pitch whether on television or in person. He was sure fun to watch.

No comments: