Prior to Game 2 of the World Series at Fenway Park on Wednesday night, the Boston Red Sox honored several members from their curse-reversing 2004 championship team — with one glaring omission.
David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez, Kevin Millar, Tim Wakefield, Jason Varitek, Keith Foulke, and Alan Embree were all in attendance to be honored prior to the game and got to throw out first pitches — but Curt Schilling, famous for his bloody sock in the 2004 postseason, was not among them. His former team did not even extend an invite.
Nope. No worries though, great to see @45PedroMartinez @davidortiz and @KMillar15 "The pimper of walks" though. Oh and I get to keep my 3 rings and 3 trophies, so it's all good. https://t.co/tyUUWhvTPe— Curt Schilling (@gehrig38) October 24, 2018
A team executive also confirmed this to the Boston Globe, saying, "We did not reach out to [Schilling], but it is not out of spite."
Understanding the background here, the Red Sox's move appears politically motivated and was absolutely the wrong move for the team to make.
Schilling was the 2004 Red Sox ace and is a member of the team’s Hall of Fame. Statistically, there’s a strong case to be made that he was the best postseason pitcher of all time. The three-time World Series champ went 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA in 19 career playoff starts and his +4.092 WPA in the playoffs is the highest of any starting pitcher in MLB history.
In the 2004 playoffs, he was a hero in New England. His "bloody sock” performance in Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS, where Schilling pitched with a dislocated tendon and was in extreme pain, was legendary. Early in the game, team doctor William Morgan went to the mound and sutured the skin around his tendon to hold it in place. Ultimately, Schilling pitched seven innings, allowing only one run, and picked up the win to send the series to a Game 7.
Schilling, who had a longer tenure with the team than Millar, Foulke, and Embree, also helped the team to their 2007 World Series win and still lives in Medfield, Mass., less than 30 miles from Fenway Park.
Schilling, however, is an outspoken conservative and supporter of President Trump, and he also works for both Breitbart and CRTV, both of which are popular right-leaning sites. In the past, he has also made comments that upset liberals, which also seem to be hurting his chances of being inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame — there's certainly no talent issues keeping him out.
Schilling isn’t exactly the most politically correct guy. The 20-year big leaguer was fired by ESPN in April 2016 for sharing a meme that highlighted the issue of allowing people to use bathrooms on the basis of “gender identity” and not biological sex. He also shared another meme several months prior that compared the threat posed by Islamic extremism to that of Nazi Germany.
In contrast, the Red Sox's principal owner, John Henry, also owns the left-leaning and anti-Trump Boston Globe (which put out a propaganda front page against the now-president in April 2016). Henry donated more than $700,000 to Democratic campaigns from 1998 to 2004, according to Boston Magazine.
Regardless of how Henry feels about Schilling’s political views, what some seem to miss is that Schilling is not a bad guy, nor are his views an anomaly in pro baseball.
As a player, Schilling raised and donated more than $9 million for ALS research with his charity Curt’s Pitch for ALS. He also was actively involved in hurricane relief last year in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico through Operation Bullpen; his group sent more than 1.5 million pounds of food and supplies, contributing to the relief effort.
Schilling has also made it clear he opposes actual bigotry — like when he disavowed two-time congressional candidate Paul Nehlen, a white nationalist who has twice attempted (and failed) to secure the Republican nomination for the seat in Wisconsin's first congressional district. Originally embraced by the anti-establishment Right as an alternative to Paul Ryan, Nehlen started showing his true racist, anti-Semitic colors in December 2017. As soon as Schilling found this out, he called Nehlen out and disinvited him from his radio show.
@pnehlen Spent better part of last night/today catching up on your post-interview antics. Can't give a platform to a man that is A) So ignorant as to be in need of help and/or B) A fascist making no attempt to cover up his beliefs. No positive benefit to giving you air time— Curt Schilling (@gehrig38) December 30, 2017
Censored? Please. What he's done the past few weeks has been an effort to associate himself with folks who are racist, anti-semitic and just overall scum. I'm not a fan of any of that crap. No sense giving a platform to 'rationalize' the ideology— Curt Schilling (@gehrig38) December 30, 2017
If the Red Sox want to distance themselves from Schilling because he is not afraid to share his mainstream conservative views, then perhaps they should realize that more than 75 percent of the league’s political contributions go to conservative causes. Major League Baseball is loaded with high school-educated white men from the Sun Belt, arguably the most conservative demographic in the country. The difference between Schilling and many players, though, is that he is not afraid to speak his mind — which, ironically, ESPN wishes more MLB players did (in the other direction).
It's clear that when players are honored prior to the World Series, it’s for their achievements on the baseball diamond — and Schilling’s accolades are tremendous. He holds a special place in Red Sox history and absolutely deserved to be honored prior to the game. Had he been there in a group with seven of his former teammates, it most likely wouldn’t have even been a news story — he probably even would have been cheered.
By not inviting him, the Red Sox took a stance on what he has done outside of baseball — whether or not they want to admit it.
Tom Joyce (@TomJoyceSports) is a freelance writer who has been published with USA Today, the Boston Globe, Newsday, ESPN, the Detroit Free Press, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Federalist, and a number of other media outlets.