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Schilling fulfills mission
10/28/2004 9:15 AM ET
ST. LOUIS -- In between bites of turkey with Theo Epstein back on Thanksgiving, Curt Schilling thought of what it could be like to be a part of the Red Sox team that ended all those decades of agony and conquered the Yankees and the rest of the baseball world.

It was that tantalizing prospect that ultimately convinced Schilling to waive his no-trade clause and his comfortable life in Arizona to become a member of the Boston Red Sox, riding shotgun with the great Pedro Martinez atop the starting rotation.

But as much as he thought about it back in November and the 10 months that followed, Schilling never really knew what it would be like until Wednesday night in St. Louis. It was then that he giddily paraded around the field with his wife Shonda and took it all in.

"You want to know how I feel? I'm at a loss for words," said Schilling.

For the 37-year-old Schilling, coming up with words for the occasion is usually about as difficult as reaching back with his right arm and blowing away an opposing hitter. He has a gift for gab, which, along with his fiery and ultra-competitive personality, made him a smashing hit with Red Sox fans from the day that trade was consummated.

Matter of fact, if not for Schilling's ability to think on his feet, he might never have talked the Red Sox into that clause that provided him a $2 million bonus if they won a World Series championship. That same clause also automatically kicked in Schilling's $13 million option for the 2007 season.

Schilling proved worthy of that financial sum by being a money pitcher all year long, even during the postseason, when a dislocated right ankle tendon made it almost impossible for him to pitch.

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The reward for pitching in pain figures to be endless over the next few months, perhaps with the exception of when Schilling undergoes ankle surgery within the next week.

As pivotal as Schilling was to the Diamondbacks winning the 2001 World Series against the Yankees, he wasn't quite ready to compare the feeling of winning it all with the Red Sox, the team that drafted him way back in 1986.

"I've just started to enjoy it," said Schilling. "I would imagine after the hangover and the parade, I'm going to wake up and have a healed foot and a big, fat ring on my finger."

If not for all the questions that kept coming his way, the big right-hander might just have been left positively speechless.

"I don't know what to say," said Schilling. "I'm so proud of everybody, from Mr. Werner to Mr. Henry, Theo Epstein, the medical staff, the scouting staff, Dave Jauss, Galen [Carr], we put together an unbeatable plan for the World Series and we went out and executed it as a ballclub."

Of course, there never would have been a World Series -- or even a postseason -- if not for the stalwart Schilling. He went 21-6 during the regular season and kicked off the postseason by leading the Sox to victory over the Angels.

That afternoon in Anaheim almost turned into the downfall for the Sox, as Schilling had several tough landings on his ankle, leaving him in rough shape for his Game 1, ALCS start against the Yankees.

He was pounded that night in the Bronx and wondered if his ankle would allow him to pitch again in 2004. The Red Sox bought him some time by making he first couple of steps of their ultimately historic mission against the Yankees, coming back from 0-3

Only a breakthrough medical procedure by the Red Sox's medical staff, in which Schilling had his right ankle sutured for Game 6 of the American League Championship Series and Game 2 of the World Series, kept him on the mound. He gave up a grand total of one earned run during those two starts in which his ankle was being held together by thread.

Schilling came out with a red sock during that do-or-die Game 6 in Yankee Stadium (one of the stitches caused blood), leading his mates to a 4-1 victory.

He had one game left in him -- Game 2 at Fenway against the Cardinals -- and he allowed a meager four hits and one unearned run over six innings.

Nobody will ever know if Schilling's foot could have endured one last suture treatment in a potential Game 6. The Red Sox avoided that dilemma by breaking out the brooms in St. Louis, enabling Schilling to savor the moment.

"There was no letdown after the Yankees series like all the experts were saying," Schilling said. "We knew that wasn't what we came for. We had to go through New York because they were the best team, but now we are. I came here to be a part of something special and I was."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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