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Published:March 24th, 2009 10:47 EST
World Series' MVP Schilling Walks Away From The Game

World Series' MVP Schilling Walks Away From The Game

By Christopher HIllenbrand

Curt Schilling announced that after 20 years in the Major Leagues, he`s calling it quits, to the media Monday morning. Though he hadn`t spoke about any injury, he was on the disabled list all of last year because of a shoulder injury during a season in which he signed to a 1-year $8 million contract.

On his web blog, Schilling posted that he holds "zero regrets" for any of the decisions he`s made these many years. He wrote: "The things I was allowed to experience, the people I was able to call friends, teammates, mentors, coaches, and opponents, the travel, all of it, are more than anything I ever thought possible in my lifetime. The game always gave me more than I ever gave it. All of those things, every single one of those memories is enveloped with fan sights and sounds for me."

His future remained doubtful in 2008, as his shoulder needed surgery halfway through the season. In June 2007, he underwent a procedure to repair his right biceps tenden and labrum, which went against the team`s advice, Schilling later admitted in his blog. After the operation, Boston had expected him to be back by the end of the year at the latest, but it seems likely he`d given all he could but it wasn`t enough.

Theo Epstein, general manager for the Boston Red Sox, e-mailed a flattering statement about Curt to The Asoociated Press. In his message, he released: "Curt had a great career and made a profound impact on the Red Sox, helping to restore the Red Sox` status as a championship organization. He was consistently dominant, and never more so than when it mattered most. Not only for what he did - but for when and how he did it - Curt deserves to be remembered with the all-time greats."

During his career, spanning two decades, Curt Schilling had been the sport`s embodiment of class, competition, and resilence in baseball, from an emotional post-9/11 World Series pitting the Arizona Diamondbacks against the New York Yankees, to being the insider calling out the cheaters linked with the steroids scandals to fess up and come clean. Along the way, while making stops in Baltimore, Arizona, Boston, and everywhere between, the Hall of Famer in character (if not in sporting achievement, which is a stretch of the imagination) still racked up 216 wins with a .597 winning percentage and the second highest strikeout to walk ratio in history. But Schilling would admit he didn`t know how his career would end up when he first started his professional career in baseball.

Schilling was drafted by the team that blessed him as the last team he played for: the Boston Red Sox. But he was traded away where he spent 3 subpar years in Baltimore. With the Orioles, Schilling didn`t have a win until his 3rd season and ended his time in Baltimore at 1 and 6. The next year in Houston didn`t reverse his fortunes in the sport and many analysts argued that his days were numbered.

In the next 9 years with Philadelphia, Schilling won 112 games compared to only 84 losses with 5 and 6 of those figures respectively coming with Arizona by the end of 2000. While he finished in the top 10 in ERA 5 out of the 10 years for the Phillies, Schilling was awarded with the NLCS MVP in 1993 and Major League`s Lou Gehrig Memorial Award in 1995.

As the second fiddle in one of the greatest 1-2 starting combinations in MLB history, #2 starter Schilling, and #1 Randy Johnson shared the title of 2001 World Series MVP for a Diamondbacks` team that ranks as one of the best ever. Curt also won the Babe Ruth Award, Branch Rickey Award, Hutch Award, Roberto Clemente Award, and the TSN Pitcher of the Year accolade following his harrowing performance in the 2001 World Series.

Nobody could`ve seen how baseball`s man of integrity could "one-up" himself after a 2001 campaign for the ages, at least until he was picked up by the Red Sox prior to the 2004 season. As a statement to fans in Red Sox Nation, he made the hefty promise to bring a championship back to Beantown after a long 86 year drought where Boston saw so many teams miss that glory by the smallest of margins. Posting a 21 an 6 record, 203 SO`s, and a 3.26 ERA during the regular season, Schlling solidified his place in postseason legend with a Game 2 win which featured the sock over an ankle, recently operated upon, soaked with blood. In 2005, he struggled down the stretch with minor injuries and was sidelined again in 2007. But in the final game of his career, Game 2 of the 2007 World Series, he only allowed 1 run on 4 hits in 5 1/3 innings. The final batter he faced was Todd Helton, who he walked before he was relieved by Hideki Okajima.

Curt Schilling proved that he was baseball`s most opinionated player, over many problems other ballplayers would readily sweep under the rug.

His convictions on fellow major-leaguers` steroid abuse drove him to testify at a congressional hearing in 2005 over the matter. Later in an interview on HBO when Bob Costas asked him what his opinion was about the allegatons against Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire, he believed that their refusal to confront the issues head on was as incriminating as if they confessed.

Concerning his former teammate, Manny Ramirez, Schilling intimated: "He was very kind, and well-mannered, but there were spurts and times when you didn`t know who he was. You know, he was always kind and nice for the most part, but he`d show up the next day and say, `I`m through with this team, I want out now.`"

Curt Schilling retires with the 80th most wins all-time with 216, the 15th most strikeouts ever with 3,116, and a SO-to- BB ratio of 4.38, 2nd behind Tommy Bond in MLB history. His clutch ability in the postseason is arguably the most impressive feat of his career: an 11-2 record, which is the finest record for any pitcher with at least 10 decisions, and an ERA of 2.23 in 19 career postseason starts.

As his blog entry came to a close, Schilling admitted that "The game was here long before was, and will be here long after I am gone. The only thing I hope I did was never put in question my love for the game, or my passion to be counted on when it mattered most.

"I did everything I could to win every time I was handed the ball": perhaps a tagline on his plaque in Cooperstown delineating one of the best team players ever to grace the "Grand Old Pastime".