A Legendary Thanksgiving Dinner
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 all of the good that is in our lives and in the world.
It is also a great 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 struck 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 Curt 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 done 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 in 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 Schilling a bonus if the Red Sox won the World Series. The right hander bet on himself and his arm.
Rightfully so, as he was and is considered one of the best big game pitchers. 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 in 2004. He was second in the Cy Young voting. His ERA was 3.26, and that was more than enough from the 37-year old to help the Red Sox reach the playoffs.
However, there is one start that all of Boston will remember Schilling for. The bloody sock legend was set in motion during this dinner with Their Epstein.
Schilling had a torn tendon sheath in his ankle during the playoffs. He could have sat out. He could have packed his bag and said that he needs to heal. Instead, he got a procedure done that allowed him to pitch a game where an entire fan base would always remember him for. The best part? Schilling came up big for the Red Sox against the rival Yankees. He gave up one run over 7 innings in a Game 6 that would force a Game 7 for all the marbles in the American League Championship Series.
It was the type of gritty performance that Red Sox fans love, and because of 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.