I used to wait with bated breath for Don Meredith to start singing that on Monday night football. Normally it was sweet music if the Steelers were playing.
If I could get him to sing it again I would. 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.
To say I've been blessed would be like calling Refrigerator Perry 'a bit overweight'. The things I was allowed to experience, the people I was able to call friends, teammates, mentors, coaches and opponents, the travel, all of it, are far more than anything I ever thought possible in my lifetime.
Four World Series, three World Championships. That there are men with plaques in Cooperstown who never experienced one, and I was able to be on three teams over seven years that won it all is another 'beyond my wildest dreams' set of memories I'll be allowed to take with me.
On the day Curt Schilling turned 30 -- in 1996 -- his career record in the majors was 52 wins and 52 losses. Nobody would have given you a plugged nickel for his chances of someday getting his own plaque in Cooperstown.
And since turning 30? 164 wins, 94 losses.
Perhaps this question has already been answered to your satisfaction, but I know I'm going to be asked a few dozen times in the next few days: Is Schilling a Hall of Famer?
Of course he is.
It's not his 216 career wins. It's not his .597 career winning percentage. It's not his 11-2 record in postseason games, or his 2.23 ERA. It's not even the bloody sock.
It's all of those things.
Catfish Hunter was easily elected to the Hall of Fame, with a 224-166 record and a bit of extra credit for going 9-6 with a 3.26 ERA in October. His career ERA+ was 104 (not that anybody who voted for him would have known that). Schilling's got nearly as many wins, significantly fewer losses, a better postseason record, and a blow-Catfish-out-of-the-water 127 ERA+ (which every voter today should know about).
Two years I was lukewarm about Schilling's Hall of Fame candidacy. I wasn't against it, exactly. But neither was I for it. But during those two years, Schilling helped pitch the Red Sox to another championship and I got just a little bit smarter. Today I can't imagine a Hall of Fame without him.