Curt Schilling, the former Red Sox pitcher and current ESPN analyst, announced in a statement with the network this afternoon that he has cancer.
“I’ve always believed life is about embracing the gifts and rising up to meet the challenges. We’ve been presented with another challenge, as I’ve recently been diagnosed with cancer,” said Schilling, who turned 47 in November. “Shonda [Schilling’s wife] and I want to send a sincere thank you and our appreciation to those who have called and sent prayers, and we ask that if you are so inclined, to keep the Schilling family in your prayers.”
An ESPN spokesman said Schilling doesn’t want to say anything further at this time regarding the type of cancer he is facing and his prognosis.
Schilling, who spent four seasons of his 20-year major league career with the Red Sox and was instrumental in their World Series victories in 2004 and ’07, joined ESPN as a studio analyst for ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight” in 2010.
In December, he was chosen to replace Orel Hershiser for the high-profile role as a color analyst on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” broadcasts alongside Dan Shulman and John Kruk.
Schilling and ESPN did not reveal what type of cancer he was diagnosed with and how long he may be away from his new job.
Shonda Schilling is a cancer survivor. She was diagnosed in 2001 with stage 2 malignant melanoma.
“Our thoughts are with Curt and his family during this challenging time,” the network said in a statement. “His ESPN teammates wish him continued strength in his cancer fight and we look forward to welcoming him back to our baseball coverage whenever he’s ready.”
Schilling pitched for five teams during his major league career, winning 216 games and compiling 3,116 strikeouts. He made six All-Star teams, won at least 21 games in a season three times — including in 2004 with the Red Sox. He won his first of three World Series titles with the 2001 Diamondbacks.
While he received just 29.2 percent of the vote during Hall of Fame balloting this year, his second on the ballot, he has a legitimate résumé for eventual Cooperstown enshrinement that is bolstered by his extraordinary postseason performance. In 19 playoff starts, he went 11-2 with a 2.23 earned-run average, and his bloody-sock heroics during the ’04 postseason are a permanent part of Red Sox lore.
Schilling had found his niche as an analyst after enduring some difficult times in recent years. A video game business suffered a prominent and costly failure in Rhode Island, one that cost the state tens of millions of dollars and Schilling the bulk of his baseball fortune. He revealed to the Globe’s Stan Grossfeld in an August 2013 story that he suffered a heart attack in November 2011 that required surgery to implant a stent in an artery.
In his statement, he recalled some words of wisdom he received from his father, who died when Schilling was 21.
“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,’ ” he said. “Over the years in Boston, the kids at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have shown us what that means. With my incredibly talented medical team I’m ready to try and win another big game. I’ve been so very blessed and I feel grateful for what God has allowed my family to have and experience, and I’ll embrace this fight just like the rest of them, with resolute faith and head on.”