Some thoughts from Red Sox players and personnel on Curt Schilling, who announced his retirement today after 23 professional seasons:
“He was a leader around here, the one guy who would push you to positive things. He did nothing but good things to help this ball club win championships.”
On the bloody sock:
“It was freezing, raining, cold as hell, and the guy just had open surgery on his ankle. A lot of people come up to me and ask me, ‘Hey, he was bleeding for real?’ I’ll tell you what, man. He showed me a lot of guts. I had a lot of respect for Curt.”
“He made a profound impact while he was here. He helped us win two World Series, had some great seasons for us. He really proved with the career that he had and the games that he pitched when it mattered the most, he deserves to be remembered among the all-time greats. He did some of his best work with us.”
On his knack for rising to the occasion:
“It’s hard to live up to expectations when you’re part of a big trade. He delivered. Won 20 games, threw really well all year. The most memorable moment for me — for everybody — is probably coming back after the very crude surgery he had on his ankle to pitch against the Yankees.”
On convincing him to come to the Sox in November 2003:
“I think in the end, we really didn’t need to sell it. The Red Sox were perfect for him, because he likes the big stage, the history of the game. He likes to be the center of attention. It was a good fit.”
“I wished I could have matched up against up a few more times. I remember the Arizona vividly, because I was waiting to pitch. Him and Randy Johnson dominated. I wish him the best in retirement.
“I always enjoyed — I know you don’t pitch against the guy; you pitch against the lineup. But I always enjoyed the opportunity to pitch against him, because of what he could do on the baseball field. He certainly commands that kind of attention. His postseason speaks for himself.”
“I go back to ’97. He started the first game I ever managed. It’s been a long time. A lot of good pitching. From my aspect, he’d always show up on time. He’d give you everything he has. Every time he pitched, you felt like you had a chance to win. He had the ability to reach back for more about as good as anybody I’ve ever seen.”
On why Schilling was so good in October:
“There’s a lot reasons. You’d better be good in June and July to be good in October. The big stage, he excelled. He didn’t shy away from it. He wanted to pitch in those situations. He could command his fastball. He could compete. He didn’t back down. He knew what he wanted to do, and he executed.
“Even in Philadelphia when we were struggling to win, you felt like you had a pretty good team that day he was pitching.”
On the “bloody sock” playoff game against the Yankees:
“It was unfair, I’m sure. I expected him not only to pitch, but to win. That’s probably not fair to him. But I always felt like that.”
On Schilling’s pregame demeanor:
“The surlier, the better. The few times where he did speak, I remember thinking, ‘He’s not ready to pitch.’ That wasn’t very often. The surlier the better. The first time I talked to him was usually whem I would take him out.”
On whether he was surprised by today’s news:
“I thought he was contemplating it, because I know he’s got a lot of other stuff going on in his life. It looks like it’s a new chapter.”
“I don’t think we’re standing where we’re at, having won two world championships, without Curt. What he brought in his preparation as a winning commodity, as a winning pitcher, somebody that strived for this organization to do well, to work towards doing what his organization hadn’t done in 86 years.
“He cares about winning. And he cared about this organization doing well. He was a great teammate to me. He helped me out quite a bit.”