Schilling provided big memories in big moments

Updated: March 23, 2009

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Curt Schilling on Monday announced his retirement from baseball on his blog.

BIG STAGE DEFINED SCHILLING

Curt Schilling has been as compelling a baseball player as any over the past decade. He is charismatic, controversial, clutch and incredibly comfortable in his own skin. His 216 wins match the total accumulated by Charlie Hough, hardly a household name when it comes to big league pitching.

Now, though, toss in Schill's postseason record, which is virtually untouchable. He not only performed in the postseasons, but he also did it in three of the most memorable World Series of all time. The man liked the big stage.

For the very same reason Michael Jordan was the guy you wanted to have the ball in the final seconds of a game and Tiger Woods is right now the man you want standing over a must-make 10-foot putt, Curt Schilling was the pitcher you wanted to have the ball in a must-win game. That cannot be ignored, and when put together with his 216 wins and his 11-2 postseason record … simply put, that makes him a Hall of Famer.

Seriously, think about some of the most memorable moments in baseball history. Joe Carter's walk-off home run in Game 6 of the 1993 World Series to give the title to the Blue Jays. Yes, it broke the Phillies. But without Curt Schilling throwing a five-hit, 147-pitch complete game shutout in Game 5, the Phillies wouldn't have seen Game 6. So without that effort from Schilling in Game 5, there is no Joe Carter moment in Game 6. Also keep this in mind: That Game 5 gem came a night after a Phillies implosion. They wasted a 14-9, seventh-inning lead against the Blue Jays. The Phillies were crushed. But here came Schilling, the very next night, with the wound still fresh, and he put the Phils on his back to keep their postseason alive.

We all remember the horror that ripped through this country after Sept. 11. It's a date that will resonate forever for the sheer terror caused by terrorists flying into the World Trade Center, collapsing the buildings, killing thousands and sapping a nation of its energy. The pride was slowly restored and on full display a month later, when the Yankees and Diamondbacks met for the World Series title.

With nearly everyone except relatives of those on the Diamondbacks rooting for New York, Schilling and Randy Johnson still performed remarkably well. Schilling appeared in three games in a Series remembered for the amazing comebacks by the Yankees at Yankee Stadium in Games 4 and 5.

Schilling went 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA in that series. He allowed four earned runs in 21 1/3 innings. It was his famous comment about "Mystique and Aura" that forever put a target on his back in New York. Asked about the mystique and aura that seemingly surrounded the Yankees, especially inside Yankee Stadium, Schilling shot back: "Those are dancers in a nightclub. Those are not things we concern ourselves with on the ball field."

Then, of course, there was 2004 with the Red Sox. Yes, the famous Bloody Sock Game. Schilling arrived in Boston before the 2004 season and vowed to slay the mighty Yankees. He accomplished that goal later that year. His ankle bloodied by a recent surgery, he led the Red Sox to a Game 6 win against those hated Yankees as Boston became the first team ever to overcome a 3-0 deficit in a seven-game series. The Evil Empire vanquished, Schilling and the Red Sox then set aside the Cardinals to win that long-awaited World Series title.

His sock is in the Hall of Fame and, in time, his plaque should also be.

Past Baseball Tonight Clubhouses: March 22 | March 19 | March 18 | March 17 | March 16

BEST OF THE BLOGS

Each day, ESPN.com's contributors offer a wide array of thoughts and analysis in their blogs. On Monday, the talk was Curt Schilling. Our resident Schilling authority, Jayson Stark, checked in with his thoughts:

I don't have to make up my mind, officially, on whether Curt Schilling is a Hall of Famer until December 2012. But I already know how I'll vote.

Yes.

For a lot of people, I know, this man's Hall of Fame worthiness is going to be a tough call. Not for me.

When I watched him pitch, I knew exactly what I was watching.

Greatness.

We'll get to the numbers that prove that greatness in a minute. But first, let's digress.

I sat in the dugout with Johnny Damon today and talked about Curt Schilling. I told Damon about a conversation I had with Schilling a few years back in which I asked him how he'd like to be remembered. Here's how he answered:

"I want [my teammates] to say, when I'm done playing, 'If I had to win a game -- life or death, one game -- that's the guy I'd want to have the ball.' And I want the guys in the other dugout to say, 'Oh [no]. It's Schilling's turn to pitch.'"

For the rest of this entry from Jayson Stark's blog, click here.


Rob Neyer answers the Hall of Fame question as it pertains to Schilling:

… 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.

For the rest of this entry from Rob Neyer's blog, click here.


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CURT SCHILLING'S LEGACY

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Daisuke Matsuzaka
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