This the fifth in a series of outtakes from interviews done for Feeding the Monster, to be published on July 11 by Simon & Schuster. This interview with Curt Schilling was conducted in the Red Sox dugout on September 28, 2005. Read the book for exclusive details on how Schilling ended up having emergency surgery in October 2004, his reaction to his 2005 season, and Pedro Martinez’s response to Schilling’s arrival in Boston.
On whether he thought he’d end up in Boston: I went into [the 2003 offseason] thinking and feeling like I was a free agent with a contract, which gave me a lot of leverage, because we were both extremely happy in Arizona. But I had known for an extended period of time that that was my final season in Arizona, just based on the contractual situation and things that had been said by [Diamondbacks owner] Mr. [Jerry] Colangelo and the front office there. I knew I was probably going to be the odd man out, and when we started to think about what we were going to do, that season I was injured for a lot of the year on and off, so we started to look around, and the two things we wanted werenâ€šÃ„Ã´t exclusive.
We wanted to go somewhere that we were familiar with and comfortable with, and we wanted to be on a contending ballclub for the remaining years of my career. I went into this knowing that this was going to be the last contract for me. The two teams that kind of jumped out at us were the Phillies and the Yankees. It became obvious very early on that the Phillies were not interested on a personal level, that that wasnâ€šÃ„Ã´t going to work out. Because through back channels, I made it very clear to them that Iâ€šÃ„Ã´d go there for a lot less than I actually ended up signing for, for a lot shorter period of time. We wanted to go back to what we thought was home. I think there were a lot of personal issues between people that were in the organizations and myself that just werenâ€šÃ„Ã´t going to work out.
And then with the Yankees situation, we let it be known that that was one of the teams we were interested in. Boston wasnâ€šÃ„Ã´t a team that we were even contemplating, because I didnâ€šÃ„Ã´t know anything about them. I didnâ€šÃ„Ã´t know anything the organization, I didnâ€šÃ„Ã´t know anything about the people here.
On Fenway’s reputation as being a bad park for fly-ball pitchers: Well, that wasnâ€šÃ„Ã´t even a top-of-the-rung factor. That was something that just added to the negatives. Iâ€šÃ„Ã´d played here and knew it was an incredible atmosphere to pitch in, but it was not something that offered a lot for me.
On why he decided to consider Boston: When Tito [Francona] ended up getting interviewed for this job, it became someplace that I was interested in. It all happened, literally, in a span of about 12 hours. My wife had a fundraiser at our house, and Mr. Colangelo and [general manager Joe] Mr. Garagiola were both there, and this was, I think, the day Iâ€šÃ„Ã´d heard that Tito had been interviewed for the job. And I felt like if Tito interviewed for a job, he was going to get it. And I went to Joe and I told Joe that I would probably contemplate or consider coming to Boston. I know that within five minutes, he told Jerry, and within five minutes after that, Jerry came to me and told me he might have a deal. My impression was that Boston had talked to Arizona and had a preliminary deal on the table in case they became a team I was interested in, and when that happened it happened very quickly.
On the experience of pitching in Fenway: First of all, I was prepared, to a degree, for what this was like, but I wasnâ€šÃ„Ã´t prepared for what it really was. The first thing that I kind of, that took me not by surprise, but was more than I expected was the level of the personal relationship that these fans have with the players. If you are a member of this franchise, youâ€šÃ„Ã´re a member of their families. There was so much hype and excitement, and I was excited to think that coming here could have that kind of effect on people. I think in the end, coming here, the final piece of the puzzle was that Boston presented me, on a personal level, was a challenge that no place else can offer. Philly had won [the World Series]. In New York you were supposed to win. Boston had never won [since 1918], and to come here and be a part of something that could change that was incredibly attractive to me. From day one, it was nice. It was everything I had hoped it would be, atmosphere-wise and more.
On what’s changed for the Red Sox after winning the World Series: You can take the same 25 guys from one year to the next, and things are going to change. The atmosphere is going to change, because people change. Everything changes: the dynamics in the clubhouse. We all have families. We all live real lives. Teammates go through divorces, teammates get married, teammates have kidsâ€šÃ„Ã®those are life-changing experiences, and people change because of them. So regardless of whether youâ€šÃ„Ã´ve turned over a whole roster or have 25 of the same guys, the dynamics are going to be totally different each year. The difference here is that thereâ€šÃ„Ã´s so much scrutiny, so much media, that every change is addressed and dissected to the umpteenth degree. Itâ€šÃ„Ã´s monotonous, and things are made out to be a much bigger deal here outside the clubhouse than they are inside the clubhouse.
On the press coverage in Philadelphia compared to the coverage in Boston: One of the differences is that in Philadelphia, the media is so negative. It is such a negative place. There are some negative people here, but the years I spent in Philly, there was such a deep resentment for the front office and the team that fans were not going to support the team just to show the ownership and the team a thing or two. Thatâ€šÃ„Ã´s not the case here.