Character, Courage and Curt
By Craig Muder
By the numbers, Curt Schilling may be the best postseason pitcher baseball has ever known. But when he visited Cooperstown last November to help dedicate the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s new Character and Courage statues, Schilling’s steely nerves and icy demeanor betrayed him.
Schilling, invited to speak on behalf of Lou Gehrig at the ribbon-cutting for statues honoring Gehrig, Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente, was visibly moved during a short speech in front of a packed Museum foyer.
“I can’t believe I’m standing here,” said Schilling, who — after missing all of the 2008 season — announced his retirement Monday. “I’m embarrassed to be standing here, really. These three men accomplished so much.”
Not that Schilling is any slouch in the stats department. The six-time All-Star and three-time World Series champion posted a 216-146 career record with 3,116 strikeouts (one of only 16 pitchers to reach the 3,000 plateau) and a 3.46 ERA. His 4.38 career strikeout-to-walk ratio ranks first among pitchers in baseball’s modern era.
In the postseason, Schilling posted a 2.23 ERA and an 11-2 record, good for an .846 winning percentage, the best of any pitcher with at least 10 decisions.
Schilling, who will become eligible for the Hall of Fame in time for the 2013 Baseball Writers’ Association of America vote, has been a generous Hall of Fame donor over the years. The bloody sock from Game 2 of the 2004 World Series is currently on display in the Museum, and Schilling has also donated these items:
- a Phillies cap from 1997, when he led the Majors with 319 strikeouts;
- a Diamondbacks cap from the 2001 World Series, when he was the co-Most Valuable Player along with teammate Randy Johnson;
- and spikes from Game 2 of the 2004 World Series with the Red Sox.
Craig Muder is director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.