he·ro n. 1. In mythology and legend, a man, often of divine ancestry, who is endowed with great courage and strength, celebrated for his bold exploits, and favored by the gods. 2. A person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life 3. A person noted for special achievement in a particular field.
"I don't know that any of us will ever understand how much it hurt him to pitch tonight." --Terry Francona
Curt Schilling just credited his Higher Power with what went through him tonight to make him stand up on one shoddy leg and pitch like--to borrow a line from Braveheart--a warrior-poet. "I've never been touched by God like that," he told a reporter in the tunnel at the Stadium.
I don't know what it was. But what Curt Schilling did tonight touched me in a way I never have been. Camera close-ups showed a substance suspiciously like blood soaking through Schilling's right sock as he gritted his teeth and no-hit the Yankees on his first trip through the line-up. The ankle was puffy, and the special NASA shoe that had been noised about was conspicuous in its absence.
Post-game press-conferences confirmed that it was blood. Get this one--his tendon was suctured, you know, like, with stitches, to keep it from popping in and out of location. And while he pitched seven magnificent innings, that was blood soaking through his sock.
But Curt bore down--he re-defined bearing down.
Way Back When, Curt said this:
So I guess the short answer is to tell them to appreciate what they got a chance to see, and remember it. Tell them that Nomar is a ballplayer, not a fireman or a police officer or a doctor, those people are the ones she needs to look up to and respect, along with her parents. Ballplayers are there to perform and be cheered, booed and jeered, to entertain fans with their god given ability, and to perform at a level no one else can. Then, at the end of the day, we go home and do the same things you all do.
And I respect his humility. But I also dismiss his statement. Because no matter what happens tomorrow night, that man is my hero. He is my idol. I haven't had too many idols. In fact, I can't think of one outside my immediate family, if you define idol as someone whose accomplishments you aspire to yourself.
Obviously, I won't ever pitch a major-league playoff game. But there are multiple metaphorical equivalents, and I hope when I'm called upon to come through someday in my own Game 6, I perform with half the fortitude and bravery that Curt Schilling displayed tonight.
It has now become one of my life goals to meet that man, and shake his hand.
And let the caterwauling begin, first, of course, about the umpiring calls that led to the disturbing juxtaposition of police in riot gear and Keith Foulke tossing the ball up and catching it, child-like, out in the bullpen; the strange arrangement of men playing a little boys' game and other men representing something deadly serious.
Not a matter of life and death? That gets murky when it comes to the Red Sox and the Yankees.