One word could be used to describe Curt Schilling’s twenty year MLB career: resilience. So, when he revealed that he was recently diagnosed with cancer, he used the attitude that he embodied throughout his career. He showed his resilient attitude when he offered this motto, “My father left me with a saying that I’ve carried my entire life and tried to pass on to our kids: ‘Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.’”. Schilling spent twenty years with five teams, most notably the Phillies, Diamondbacks, and Red Sox. Most agree that his last eight years of his career were his best. Let’s look back at his MLB journey.
He was drafted by the Red Sox in 1986. In 1988, he was traded to the Orioles along with Brady Anderson (who hit 50 home runs in 1996) for starter Mike Boddicker. After collecting a 4.54 ERA over three years in Baltimore, he was traded to the Astros. Following another year of mediocrity, he was shipped to the Phillies where he spent the next eight and a half years. It was in Philadelphia where his career took off.
The beginning and the end years of Schilling’s stay in “The City of Brotherly Love” were his most successful. In 1992, Schilling had the lowest WHIP in the league while finishing with a record of 14-11 and an ERA of 2.35 in 226.1 innings. In 1993, he compiled a 16-7 record over 235.1 innings. He led the surprising Phillies to the Fall Classic while earning NLCS MVP along the way. Yet, his 461.2 regular season innings over the past two year caught up with him and he was quiet from 1994-1996 while missing significant time due to surgery on a torn labrum. He returned strong over the last three full years of stay in Philadelphia, earning three straight All-Star appearances. He led the league in strikeouts twice in those three years. He was traded in July of 2000 to the Diamondbacks.
In Arizona, he led the league in innings and wins in 2001, going 22-6. He and fellow ace Randy Johnson attempted to halt the Yankees’ dynasty run of four championships in five years. After Luis Gonzalez’s famous walk-off poke single off Mariano Rivera clinched Game 7, the Diamondbacks were world champions and Schilling and The Big Unit were named Co-MVP’s. It would be Schilling’s first of three World Series wins. Schilling didn’t slow down in 2002, going 23-7. After another injury-filled 2003, he was “shipping off to Boston”.
He helped the Red Sox pull off one of the greatest comebacks in sports history, rallying from a three games to none deficit to advance to the World Series. He famously took the mound in Game 6 of the ALCS and won despite a torn tendon in his ankle that required makeshift stitching. Blood was visible in his ankle and his bloody sock remains one of the most memorable items in Red Sox history. He won Game 2 with the same throbbing injury and the Red Sox swept the Cardinals to end their 86 year World Series win drought.
He was less effective over the last three years of his career. His last start was a World Series win against the Rockies in 2007. Schilling went out on top earning his third World Series title.
And now, 47 years old, Schilling plans to attack his diagnosis the way he combatted his torn ankle tendon in the magical 2004 playoffs. Schilling is out to prove once more that “Tough times don’t last. Tough people do”.