Former Oriole Curt Schilling has been diagnosed with cancer. It’s troubling to hear that, especially as the latest news with the 47-year-old should probably be more about his Hall of Fame candidacy (which shouldn’t even be a question - the man was an ace and delivered under the spotlight). Whether you liked him (if he was on your team) or not, Curt’s a competitor, and here’s wishing the Bloody Sock a healthy future. I was working on one of my dull stats and card pieces before I heard the news, and here it is, to get your mind back to the man on the field and his brief time in Baltimore.
Curtis Montague Schilling made his big league debut with the Orioles at 21, having come to the team along with Brady Anderson in the deal that sent Mike Boddicker to Boston. Boddicker went 39-22 with a 3.49 ERA in three seasons for Boston, while three-time All-Star Anderson spent 14 years in Baltimore, hitting all but one of his 210 home runs for the Os, while stealing 307 bases.
Alas, while Brady hit only one home run for another team, Curt would only win the first of his 216 major league victories for Baltimore, finding limited success in five starts (an 8.49 ERA in 23.1 innings). Curt faired much better in 1991, finding his footing in the bullpen and pitching to a 2.54 ERA over 35 games.
And then, seeking an impact bat, the young pitcher was dealt to Houston with Pete Harnisch (23 years old, 11-11, 4.34 in 1990) and Steve Finley (25 years old, .254/5/62 in 681 at-bats) for Glenn Davis, a 29-year-old slugger coming off six consecutive 20-home-run campaigns, averaging 27 a year from 1985-1990, including three top-ten MVP finishes, peaking in 1986 where he was the runner-up to Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt following a .265/31/101 for the division-winning Astros.
Glenn Davis peaked at 13 home runs for the Orioles, as injuries kept him to 24 total over three years, never playing more than 106 games, twice playing under 50.
Then again, Schilling didn’t exactly benefit Houston, who dealt him to the Phillies after a single 3-5, 3.81 season in the bullpen, only for him to win 30 games over the next two seasons and lead the 1993 Phillies to the National League Pennant.
Finley didn’t make much of an impression for the Astros either, peaking at 11 home runs (despite leading the NL in triples with 13 in 1993) over four years before he found his power stroke for San Diego and Arizona, hitting 235 home runs from 1995-2004 while collecting five Gold Gloves and appearing in the World Series for each club, winning with the D-Backs in 2001.
Harnisch at least understood making an impression in his new home, picking up his only All-Star appearance in his first season for the Astros, thanks to a 12-9 record and a career-low 2.70 ERA. He’d never match that again, but his 16-9, 2.98 campaign in 1993 was certainly worth trading a broken-down slugger for.
After he left his 20s, Curt Schilling went 164-94 with a 3.45 ERA and struck out 2316 batters. He was a six-time All-Star, won three World Series rings, won 21, 22 and 23 games in a season, struck out 319 and 300 batters in seasons that weren’t those 20-win years, and went 11-1 in eleven postseason series in that span. Who knows what would have happened if the Orioles were able to take their time with the Alaskan-born kid from Arizona (who brought the first world championship to the state with a 1.69 ERA in three appearances for the 2001 D-Backs, and gained two more rings with the Red Sox in 2004 and 2007 - successfully avoiding becoming a one who got away for Boston), but it’s safe to say that even with all the acclaim and glory to follow, he remembers that first victory, coming into a tie game at Memorial Stadium on a Wednesday night in July against a potent Royals lineup, throwing two perfect innings, grounding out George Brett and striking out Bo Jackson, then watching from the sidelines as Joe Orsulak knocked in Billy Ripken for a lead the Birds would never relinquish.