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Curt Schilling

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Curtis Montague Schilling

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[edit] Biographical Information

Schilling, Curt (2007).jpg

Curt Schilling was one of the most prominent pitchers in major league baseball in the 1990s and 2000s. He notched his 3,000th strikeout in 2006. He was also one of the few major league ballplayers who spoke out against the use of steroids at time when usage was common.

He was the first Alaska native to become a major league pitcher.

Schilling was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the second round of the 1986 January draft. In 1988, he was traded at the deadline to the Baltimore Orioles and he made his major league debut later that season.

With Baltimore, Schilling often shuttled between the big club and their AAA team in Rochester. In 1989, he led the International League in wins (13), starts (27), complete games (9), shutouts (3), and innings (185.1). This earned him a brief callup that year but he was back splitting time between AAA and the Show in 1990.

Schlling was shipped to the Houston Astros during the winter of 1991 along with Pete Harnisch and Steve Finley in return for Glenn Davis, in a trade that turned out to be horribly one-sided in favor of the Astros. Schilling lasted one season in Houston, again splitting time between the major leagues and the minors, before being dealt again to the Philadelphia Phillies before the 1992 season. After the Phillies were beset by pitching injuries, they returned Schilling to the starting rotation. He flourished winning 14 games. His 2.35 ERA was good for fourth in the National League.

The following season, 1993, it all came together for Schilling and the Phillies. Schilling went 16-7 as a full-time starter. He was the staff ace as the Phillies went all the way to the World Series. Schilling was named NLCS MVP in the Phils' upset victory over the Atlanta Braves. He is also remembered for covering his head with a towel when closer Mitch Williams would enter the game.

Injuries plagued Schilling in 1994 and 1995, as he managed only 30 starts over two seasons. He returned in 1996 and by 1997, he had regained a new form that has held for nearly a decade. Schilling was regarded as a fireballer in 1997 and 1998. He topped 300 strikeouts both seasons. He was also named an All-Star from 1997 to 1999.

Entering the 2000 season, it was clear that Schilling was not in the plans of the rebuilding Phillies. After a half season of pandering by management and entreaties from many franchises, the Arizona Diamondbacks won the Schilling sweepstakes and he was dealt for four players at the trading deadline. As the righthanded complement to Randy Johnson, Schilling led the league in wins in 2001. In the post-season, Schilling was masterful: he won 4 games, including one in the World Series. He had an ERA of 1.69 in the Series and was named co-MVP with Johnson.

Johnson and Schilling combined for 47 wins in 2002 and they finished 1-2 in voting for the Cy Young Award. They did not fare well in the playoffs, however losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS. Schilling, however, was masterful with a 1.29 ERA in his only start. During the regular season, he had a streak of 56 strikeouts between issuing walks, from May 13th to June 8th; it's the longest such streak recorded in the retrosheet era, and likely the longest of all time, as extreme K/W ratios such as Schilling's are a relatively recent phenomenon. He had a pedestrian season in 2003, going 8-9 with a stint on the disabled list.

Schilling and the World Series trophy.

Schilling's enduring legacy was cemented when he signed with the Boston Red Sox for the 2004 season. At age 37, he was named an All-Star for the sixth time. He led the American League in wins (21) and was second in ERA (3.26). The Schilling of old had returned for an encore. As the Red Sox entered the playoffs, Schilling was the staff ace. In the first game of the Division Series, Schilling tore the tendon sheath in his right ankle. The injury was originally thought to be a relapse of a bone bruise suffered earlier in the season, or a case of tendonitis. As the pain increased, Schilling was eventually forced to undergo a minor surgical procedure the day before he pitched. The torn tendon sheath was stitched into place so it wouldn't interfere with the joint, then released after the game. Pitching in pain, and with blood soaking through his sock, Schilling won Game 6 of the ALCS against the hated New York Yankees. The Red Sox had been behind, three games to none. With Schilling, they forced a seventh game, which they won, making it the first time a team had overcome a 3-0 deficit in baseball history.

In the World Series, Schilling gave the Red Sox six shutout innings in Game 2 during a sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals. During the winter, he had major surgery to repair the ankle. The injury impaired him into the 2005 season, as he only made 11 starts.

Nearing 40, Schilling remained one of the most effective pitchers in the game. He returned to form in 2006, going 15-7 with a 3.97 ERA and 183 strikeouts. He also won his 200th game during the 2006 season. However, 2007 marked the end of the road for him: he went 9-8, 3.87 in 24 starts in a season cut up by various small injuries. He decided to hang up his spikes after that season, ending a 20-year career with a record of 216-146, a 3.46 ERA and a superlative K/W ratio of 3,116/711, the best of the modern era (19th century pitcher Tommy Bond is the only pitcher to have done better, under circumstances so different as to defy comparison).

After his retirement, Schilling invested in starting a video game company named 38 Studios, although that venture was not a great success. He had to put up $5 million in gold coins as collateral to secure a loan that allowed its first game to go on the market in 2012, and then laid off its entire staff as soon as that milestone was reached. On November 1st, the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation sued him and other top officials from 38 Studios over a $75 million loan guarantee to his defunct company. He had put up a key piece of memorabilia, the blood-stained sock he wore Game 2 of the 2004 World Series and which had been on loan to the Hall of Fame ever since (the sock he had worn in Game 6 of the ALCS had been thrown away after the game, as no one yet realized its future iconic nature). The bank seized the artefact and auctioned it off on February 23, 2013; it fetched $92,613 from an anonymous bidder.

In his first year of eligibility for the Hall of Fame in 2013, he made a solid debut, obtaining 38.8% of the vote. He benefited from his uncompromising stand against steroids on what was dubbed the "steroid ballot", finishing ahead of Roger Clemens, whose career numbers were better, but who carried the taint of PED use. That strong opening total made him a candidate to watch in future ballots. However, in 2014, he fell back significantly, to 29.2%, well behind Clemens. While almost all holdovers on the ballot regressed because of a strong first-year class, he suffered a lot because of the presence of two 300-game winners among the first timers, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, who were both elected on their first try. With other top-rank pitchers such as Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson about to join the ballot, he faced a long road to gain election.

In February of 2014, Schilling announced that he was fighting cancer. He had found an abnormal bump on the side of his neck, and after he got it checked by a doctor, it was found that he was suffering from squamous cell carcinoma, a form of cancer almost certainly caused by chewing tobacco. Schilling had been a user for 30 years and became a self-proclaimed addict, to the point of losing his sense of taste and suffering repeatedly from bleeding gums. He stated in June that the cancer was in remission.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 6-time All-Star (1997-1999, 2001, 2002 & 2004)
  • 1993 NLCS MVP
  • 2001 World Series MVP
  • 2-times League Wins Leader (2001/NL & 2004/AL)
  • AL Winning Percentage Leader (2004)
  • 2-time NL Innings Pitched Leader (1998 & 2001)
  • 2-time NL Strikeouts Leader (1997 & 1998)
  • 4-time NL Complete Games Leader (1996, 1998, 2000 & 2001)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 8 (1993, 1997-1999, 2001, 2002, 2004 & 2006)
  • 20 Wins Seasons: 3 (2001, 2002 & 2004)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 9 (1992, 1993, 1997-1998, 2000-2002, 2004 & 2006)
  • 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 5 (1997, 1998, 2001, 2002 & 2004)
  • 300 Strikeouts Seasons: 3 (1997, 1998 & 2002)
  • Won three World Series with the Arizona Diamondbacks (2001) and the Boston Red Sox (2004 & 2007)

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