Curt Schilling was one of the best postseason pitchers in baseball history. He helped the Arizona Diamondbacks to a World Series victory in 2001 then was a part of the 2004 Red Sox team that reversed the curse. He went out on top with another World Series title in 2007.
But Schilling was almost on the other side of the Red Sox - Yankees rivalry. He explained how close he came to landing in New York during his appearance on Audacy’s original “The Bret Boone Podcast” this week.
“I thought I was going to be a Yankee,” Schilling said (9:00 in player above). “My wife wanted to go to New York and I heard Boston was 25 guys, 25 cabs, and all this other stuff.”
The Diamondbacks had just re-signed Luis Gonzalez to a massive contract and Schilling knew they wanted to shed some salary after the 2003 season. He thought he could be on the way out but had a full no-trade clause.
Diamondbacks owner Jerry Colangelo and general manager Joe Garagiola Jr. were at the Schilling household for a fundraiser when it all went down.
“I told Joe Garagiola, I said ‘Hey, listen, if Boston’s interested, I’d be open to listening,’” Schilling said. “He walks literally from me across my backyard to Jerry Colangelo, comes back five minutes later and says ‘Just so you know, Boston’s already made a trade for you on the condition maybe you waive your no-trade. They’ll be here Thursday morning and they have 72 hours to sign you.’”
Schilling became open to the idea of signing in Boston after hearing that Terry Francona, his manager in Philadelphia, was interviewing for the Red Sox job.
Even still, the Yankees put the pressure on Schilling.
“One of the things I remember very vividly about the Boston thing is I had the Yankees on my phone in the interim saying ‘Hey listen, just don’t sign there. Let the window run out and when the window runs out we’ll be there Saturday morning and you can fill in the check. We don’t care,’” he said.
Schilling wanted to make history, not join history.
“I was like ‘This is kind of nice leverage to have’ but at the end of the day, the choice between Boston and New York came down to this: I can go be a Yankee and be a part of World Championship 27, 28, maybe 29, or I can go to Boston and do something no one alive has ever seen before.”
He did just that.
Schilling negotiated a $2 million bonus for winning the World Series as well as the fourth year on his contract becoming guaranteed with a title.
“They said ‘We can’t pay you more than Pedro,’” Schilling recalled. “But you’re bringing me there to win a World Series so if I help bring the goods I want to get paid for it so I negotiated those things into the deal and I ended up making every penny of that money. We won two and it was everything you thought it could be.”