Standing in front of the pitcher’s mound at Fenway Park moments before Game 2 of the World Series were seven self-proclaimed “idiots.” As members of the 2004 World Series champions, the first Boston Red Sox team to win in 86 years, the men who were on the field, ranging from role players like Alan Embree to legends in David Ortiz and Pedro Martinez, are a part of what’s perhaps the most beloved team in the city’s history.
Noticeably absent from Wednesday night’s first-pitch festivities was Curt Schilling, the man whose “bloody sock game” during that 2004 run helped turn him into one of the most revered heroes in Red Sox lore. He is also the same man who suggested earlier in the day that the string of pipe bombs targeting prominent figures on the political left “smells exactly like something the left would and did do.” In recent years, Schilling has developed a complicated post-baseball legacy, evolving into a far-right media provocateur for his politically charged opinions. Schilling now hosts a morning radio show for Breitbart News, with hopes of one day being bigger than Sean Hannity. Because of the nature of his career after baseball, and a harsh falling out between Schilling and the Red Sox at the end of his career, the pitcher and organization have kept their distance, despite the playoff hero living about 17 miles from Fenway.
The relationship between a franchise that’s two games away from its fourth World Series title since 2004 and one of its most memorable playoff performers has been cold. It may be even chillier now, as the Red Sox acknowledged they did not invite Schilling to help throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
“We did not reach out to him,’’ a Red Sox executive told the Boston Globe. “But it is not out of spite. It was originally just going to be Pedro and David and Wake [Tim Wakefield] and [Kevin] Millar, but we heard from a few others and they are included.”
Less than two hours after the initial tweet from the Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy, Schilling confirmed on Twitter that he was not invited.
“Nope. No worries though,” he tweeted, saying that he was excited to see his old teammates have their moment. Schilling added: “Oh and I get to keep my 3 rings and 3 trophies, so it’s all good.”
Zineb Curran, vice president of corporate communications for the Red Sox, told The Washington Post in an email early Thursday that no harm was meant to any of the former players from the 2004 team who might not have been included in the ceremony.
“The ceremonial first pitch started with a couple of 2004 guys and then grew organically as we learned of other ’04 players who were planning to be at the ballpark,” Curran said to The Post. “There was no blanket invite to the entire team, and no slight intended to anyone not included.”
The breakdown in the relationship between Schilling and the Red Sox started in 2007. In a 2016 podcast, Schilling said that management accused him of not being truthful regarding an injury he was dealing with at the time. The pitcher did not play again after that season, which culminated in another World Series championship. He officially retired in March 2009.
“I basically have never spoken to them since and never will speak to them again,” he said. “It’s why I won’t do anything with the organization in an official capacity unless it’s for somebody that I know. But at the end of the day, they tried to make me admit to doing something I didn’t do and basically tell me that I tried to defraud them.”
Though he was not invited Wednesday, Schilling did receive an invitation and attended the 10-year celebration for the 2007 World Series team last year. His other former teams, the Philadelphia Phillies and Arizona Diamondbacks, have invited him back for events as recently as this season.
Still, the lack of a first-pitch invitation was not taken lightly by his family on Twitter, specifically his wife, Shonda, and one of his sons, Grant.
“Ownership sure didn’t have a problem with him when slicing and shooting [his] ankle up to pitch,” his wife tweeted. “Always better to fly 8 men in rather then ask one that stayed and raised his family here 16 miles from the ballpark.”
Grant Schilling, who identified himself as liberal and said he doesn’t agree with many of the things his father says, tweeted his disgust to the Red Sox for how they’ve treated his dad.
“I get you don’t agree with him, but not inviting him after all he’s done for you is sad, my father didn’t even mention what you did to him,” the son said. “Makes me sad to see the logo now knowing you won’t even give him an invite after he gave you those innings.”
In an Esquire profile published last year, Schilling, who was fired from ESPN in 2016 for “unacceptable” conduct stemming from him sharing an anti-transgender meme, toyed with the idea of running against Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in this year’s midterms — and maybe even running for president after a potential second term for President Trump.
Although he did not move forward on a Senate bid, Schilling is keeping busy this election cycle, fundraising and campaigning for Warren’s opponent, Republican Geoff Diehl, who is considered a heavy underdog in his effort to unseat the senior senator from Massachusetts.
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