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Curt Schilling is a central player in the story of the 2004 Boston Red Sox.
His bloody sock game in Game 6 of the American League Championship series that saw the Red Sox rally from a 3-0 deficit against the New York Yankees en route to their first World Series title in 86 years is the stuff of baseball lore.
Schilling is also a pariah in large circles. The former Philadelphia Phillies, Arizona Diamondbacks and Red Sox great has chosen to spend his retirement years espousing radical, sometimes racist political opinions.
Red Sox don’t invite Schilling to World Series ceremony
It appears now that the Red Sox don’t want to associate with Schilling.
Boston invited players from the ’04 championship team to throw out the ceremonial first pitch for Game 2 of the World Series on Wednesday. David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez, Kevin Millar, Tim Wakefield, Jason Varitek, Keith Foulke and Alan Embree were invited, a group of former Red Sox that range from icons to role players.
Schilling, who lives locally, was not part of that group. According to Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy, the Red Sox did not invite him.
‘Not out of spite’
“We did not reach out to him, but it was not out of spite,” a Red Sox executive told Shaughnessy. “It was originally just going to be Pedro and David and Wake and Millar, but we heard from a few others and they are included.”
[UPDATE: Schilling responded Thursday, and definitely thinks it was 100 percent on purpose.]
Put more simply, Schilling is now too hot for even the Red Sox to touch.
Schilling’s complicated legacy
While hosting a radio show for far right-wing media outlet Breitbart in 2017, Schilling invited white supremacist and anti-Semitic congressional candidate Paul Nehlen as a guest. Breitbart later distanced itself from the podcast archive that was eventually deleted in which Schilling provided a platform for Nehlan, a man who regularly used the phrase during his campaign “It’s OK to be white,” a motto adopted by the Ku Klux Klan.
It’s this kind of activity that has complicated his legacy and led many in baseball and sports media to distance themselves from Schilling.
Phillies, Diamondbacks embrace Schilling
That wasn’t the case in June for the Phillies, who invited Schilling to join a reunion of the 1993 National League champions while putting him front and center for a Q&A with some of his former teammates.
But in a political climate that becomes more heated by the day as the mid-term elections approach, the Red Sox have apparently decided that associating with someone who promotes the views that Schilling does is not in their best interest as they step on baseball’s highest stage.
Schilling’s views have cost him before
This is not the first time Schilling’s politics have gotten in the way of his role in the sports landscape. ESPN fired Schilling from his job as an analyst in 2016 when his Facebook post on the North Carolina bathroom debate proved to be the last straw for the network after his frequent controversial social media posts. He was previously taken off the network’s Little League World Series broadcasts after comparing Muslims to Nazis on Twitter.
In 2016, Schilling, a World Series MVP and six-time All Star, saw his support for the Hall of Fame dip from 52.3 percent to 45 percent, a trend that’s difficult to disconnect from his ESPN controversy and tweet supporting T-shirts that suggest lynching members of the media.
Schilling has since seen his support for the Hall of Fame, which has a character clause for entrance, surpass 50 percent, where 75 percent of the vote is the threshold for entrance.
It’s hard to predict if Schilling will eventually make the Hall. It the Red Sox don’t want to associate with him, will Cooperstown?
In the meantime, Wednesday’s first pitch at Fenway Park featured a glaring absence among the icons of perhaps Boston’s most beloved Red Sox team.
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