In one of the great injustices in modern sports history, the Boston Red Sox decided not to invite the most heroic member of their iconic 2004 World Series champions to join his teammates to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday night.
In the midst of the famed 2004 American League Championship Series in which the Red Sox executed the unprecedented feat of coming back from a 3-0 series deficit to finally knock off their perennial tormentors, the New York Yankees, Curt Schilling underwent a kind of surgery on his ankle which had never been performed before, then came back to win Game 6 in Yankee Stadium in spectacular fashion. The famed scene of blood oozing from Schilling’s ankle through his sock while he pitched is etched in the minds of everyone who saw that game.
Nevertheless, the Red Sox declined to offer an invitation to join his teammates despite the fact that Schilling lives locally and would not have to be flown in for the occasion.
David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez, Kevin Millar, Tim Wakefield, Jason Varitek, Keith Foulke and Alan Embree were invited. A team executive told The Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy, "We did not reach out to [Schilling], but it is not out of spite."
Schilling has, in recent years, become a conservative talk-radio host, and has made no bones about his support for President Trump, or expressing his blunt opinions to forward his conservative views. He was asked if the Red Sox even asked him to participate:
Schilling gave a gracious response:
Red Sox owner John Henry gave $283,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 1998, $300,000 to the DCCC and DSCC in 2000, $100,000 to the DSCC in 2002, and $25,000 to the Democratic National Committee Services Corp in 2004, according to Boston Magazine.
Lest it be forgotten, here’s how heroic Schilling was in 2004. He had hurt his right ankle in Game One of the American League Division Series against the Anaheim Angels; Red Sox physician Dr. William Morgan described the injury as “a subluxation, or a tear, on one of the tendons in his ankle, the sheath that houses the tendons themselves, so the tendon is now snapping over the bone.”
Schilling started Game One of the League Championship Series against the Yankees, but it was obvious he was hurting; he barely reached 90 mph on his fastball, as he could hardly bear weight on his ankle. Before Game Three, Schilling tried to wear special high-cut spikes from Reebok to hold the tendon in place; they didn’t work.
Morgan, in desperation, came up with an idea that had never been tried before: suture the skin around the dislocated tendon to hold the tendon in place. The sutures went all the way to the deep tissue.
But, as author Mike Vaccaro noted in what is possibly the best book ever written about baseball, “Emperors and Idiots,” as the operation had never been done before, Morgan first experimented by performing the surgery on a cadaver’s leg. Then it was on to Schilling, before Game 5.
As Vaccaro writes, “Morgan worked as rapidly as he could. Several sutures were threaded through skin and tissue beneath the skin and placed between the groove and the loose tendon. This created a tiny wall of flesh that kept the tendon in place, about two centimeters outside the groove.”
Schilling then pitched Game 6, bloody sock and all, with the Red Sox trailing three games to two, in Yankee Stadium. He was brilliant, throwing 99 blistering pitches, only allowing one run in the seventh inning when Bernie Williams hit a home run.
Schilling likely risked his career that night in order to carry his team, through sheer force of will, to victory, setting up their historic seventh-game victory the next night before they defeated the St. Louis Cardinals to win their first World Series in 86 years.
And the Red Sox refused to honor him and let him join his teammates.