With it being Thanksgiving, it’s always a good time to pause and reflect. It’s a good time to take stock in life and be thankful for that.
It is also a good time to take stock of a Thanksgiving dinner that began a run of winning four World Series titles in 15 years, and ended an 85 year drought.
Every Red Sox fan knows the tale of 2003. Heck, the guy who hit the home run in Game 7 of the ALCS and broke the hearts of millions is managing for that very team. Aaron Boone hit a home run that sent the Yankees to the World Series. This was after Grady Little left Pedro Martinez in too long that allowed it to get to extras anyways. The curse of the Bambino strikes again.
However, the 2004 season would become a magical one and it started off with a bold move in Arizona on Thanksgiving. General Manager Theo Epstein sat down and ate dinner on Thanksgiving with the Schilling family.
Sure, it seems like a weird move. Why on earth would you do that? Well, Epstein was trying to convince Schilling to waive his no-trade clause with the Arizona Diamondbacks and come to the Boston Red Sox. Within the week, however, he was a member of the Red Sox and the course of sports history was altered.
Schilling has plenty of interviews about this. Curt Schilling is on record with the Section 10 Podcast hosted by Jared Carrabis, chronicling this very year. He states the interviews that he knew what he was walking into. He knew the stakes. Schilling knew the fans and the city of Boston were starved for a championship. He even built it into his new contract that they would give him a bonus if the Red Sox won the World Series. Schilling bet on himself.
Rightfully so, as he was considered an awesome big game pitcher. He helped the Arizona Diamondbacks to win the World Series just two years before this very dinner.
Say what you will about Curt Schilling, the person. His political views may not mesh with yours. He may rub you the wrong way with what he says. You might even be mad with what he did in the state of Rhode Island with his video game company.
No matter what, Curt Schilling was one hell of a pitcher.
The Red Sox got their guy that Thanksgiving, and he delivered. He went 21-6 on 226.2 innings of baseball. He was second in the Cy Young voting. His ERA was 3.26, and at 37 years old, and that was more than enough to help the Red Sox reach the playoffs.
There is one start that all of Boston will remember. The bloody sock legend was born.
Schilling had a torn tendon sheath in his ankle. He could have sat out. Instead, he got a procedure done that allowed him to pitch a game he would become a legend for. He gave up one run over 7 innings in a Game 6 that would force a Game 7 for all the marbles.
It was the type of gritty performance that Red Sox fans love, and because of it, it changed a woeful fan base into one that has seen 4 World Series titles in a span of 15 years.
On a day that we give thanks, Red Sox fans might pause to reflect. If your mind happens to wander to the Red Sox, give thanks for a Thanksgiving dinner 16 years ago. Without it, a legendary 2004 may never have been born.