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October 23, 2004

Curt Schilling


Q. The other night you were very honest and public about how faith and prayer helped get you through that performance the other night. Can you talk more about that and also how your faith in God makes a difference in your career and your personal life?

CURT SCHILLING: Well, I don't think until the other day, I realized my shortcomings over the last seven years as far as my walk with the Lord goes. It was something I had realized that the four days in between the games that that was going to be my last option from a personal standpoint. I tried Game 1 to do things in a way that I knew how to do them. And as I said that night, you all saw how that turned out. I just wanted to, in the end, be able to go out and compete and pitch. I could not do that on my own. My pregame ritual and the prayers I usually say as far as going into the game is nothing more than allowing me to glorify His name at the time when it's right, and I failed to do that a lot. I've gotten a lot of responses from Christians around the world since that game, some of them saying, "I never knew you were a Christian," which kind of hit me in the core in understanding that I had a long way to go. And I think the next day is when it really all hit me how much it had affected me, because I don't remember the weather that night. I don't remember it being cold, other than being on the bench and I had a towel on my head because it was chilly and my ears were cold, but I don't remember thinking about it. I remember seeing my breath as the game went on, but I don't remember using that other than as a trigger for me breathing and taking my time. So many things happen, when I'm on the road and I'm in front of hostile crowds, I have always been able to kind of use that. They are yelling, you make a pitch and they shut up. I don't remember hearing anything that night. I know after the seventh inning when they sang God Bless America that they were getting into the game but I don't really remember hearing it. None of that stuff hit me until the next day. Here I am five days later, going to need the same thing going into Game 2 tomorrow.

Q. Game 6 against the Yankees versus Game 1 it seemed like your velocity was down a couple from when you're completely right. How much was your success due to your ability to adjust pitching-wise, mixing and matching and how much was it because your ankle felt better?

CURT SCHILLING: Well, I think the ability to stay out there for seven innings was because the ankle was better. I thought looking back on it that I made a lot of mistakes that night and they missed them, as opposed to Game 1 when they didn't. And I felt like there were a couple different situations, the sixth inning, the front door slider I threw Sheffield, a couple of situations where I needed to make pitches and we made the pitch and got away with it. I don't attribute it to any one thing as far as I'm concerned and what I did. I just, you know, we were in a situation going into that game where I knew they would be pressing. Outside of Derek (Lowe) and his aggressiveness, I was not sure how aggressive the rest of the team was going to be, and they were aggressive, which was huge because my pitch count was down. I fully expected them to bunt and to test me, which I never really thought was going to be much of an issue as far as getting off the mound was concerned and fielding my position. The only major adjustment for me was what Dr. Morgan did for me in between games. That was the one thing that allowed me to stay out there and pitch.

Q. A number of medical experts have said they have never heard of a procedure like this before, so I'd like to know from you, is it painful? And what did you think when Dr. Morgan came to you with this idea and what do you think of him as a doctor now after that?

CURT SCHILLING: Well, as far as pain goes, I'm not feeling anything right now. We did it again today and today he was -- today we were not as rushed today the first time we did it. So he allowed the painkiller to actually work this time. (Laughter.) But, when he came to me, I mean, we were out of options. I was not going to be able to pitch Game 6. That was clear. I was not going to go out there feeling the way I felt in Game 1. And this was, I mean, when he explained it to me it made total sense. Whether it had ever been done or not was not really relevant to me at that point. Talking to Dr. Theodore, who had done some stuff in the NFL and was a foot specialist, he was fine with it. When they signed off on it, we really had no other choice. It says a lot about him and his, I guess, his concern and care for me as a player and as a person. I've been in a lot of situations with team doctors who are not like that and probably would not have spent the time away from the field focusing on trying to come up with something, and it says a lot about him. He's earned every bit of the accolades he's gotten over the last ten days, because without him I would not be out here.

Q. You're at an advantage in that you faced these guys in the National League. To what extent are you going to rely on your previous experience with them and what you're going to see when the scouting reports come in?

CURT SCHILLING: Well, I will rely solely on my experience with them as far as putting a game plan together. Having watched Roger (Clemens) throw against them the other night, trying to get some feel for how he did it to them or what he did that worked and what didn't work, I'll use. You know, that's what I've been doing most of the day today. I did a lot yesterday and will continue to do it tonight, and just finalize what I feel like is the game plan I need to go out and execute to beat them. It's not going to be an easy task. This is probably the best lineup I've seen all year and probably the best lineup I've seen since the 2001 World Series.

Q. A moment ago you mentioned the 55,000 people at Yankee Stadium. It seems that in your career, whenever there is a situation where the chips are down, and they are certainly down now, you embrace those tough situations going into other people's ballparks, like Yankee Stadium. Beyond your faith, can you point to something in your personality or makeup that brings out the best in you that terrify someone else?

CURT SCHILLING: Don't kid yourself, I'm terrified. That's part of the motivation, the fear of failure. I always felt good players use the fear of failure in a positive way. No one was more nervous than I was before Game 6. Before Game 7 in the 2001 World Series, I was nervous as hell. But these are times in your life, and not just baseball, but no one believes it's possible but you. When you succeed and you come through in moments like this, no one can ever question what you're made of. Contrary to popular belief, I don't do it to sit in this room and have you tell me how good I was or how everything went. It's because of the 24 guys I suit up with and the 25 guys I'm playing against. These guys are my family. Outside of the Lord and my family, these guys are everything to me. Coming through in a moment like that and doing it in games like this, means that when you're done playing, they are going to remember you as an incredible teammate, and I've said for my whole career, I play for the respect of my teammates and the respect of my opponents and overall respect of the game. It's games like this where you make your mark.

Q. Knowing Tony La Russa, knowing that lineup, do you expect they might try and bunt a little more?

CURT SCHILLING: Oh, they will. Absolutely. I expect them to bunt. I expect them to try to get me to move off the mound, which we've gotten ready for. I would love to see Pujols come down and try to lay down a bunt, or Edmonds or Rolen. But I certainly expect them to try to push the envelope that way and run and make things happen, like he's always done in the past.

Q. What you did last week has allowed you to be portrayed as almost a mythical figure, compared to Willis Reed and Kirk Gibson. Wonder how you react to being compared to those people and whether you feel like you're a mythical figure.

CURT SCHILLING: That's a set-up. (Laughter.) Honestly, I haven't thought about that whole part of it. That's not -- I mean, all of those scenarios and stories played out through the media and became what they were through the media. I'm proud of the fact that my teammates respect me a little bit more for having done it and having succeeded doing it. And above all else, that's the thing that I take away from that more than anything. They counted on me, and the chips were down, and we did it. We came through that night. Above all else, that's the thing I'll take away from that. I think everybody in that dugout and bullpen was questioning whether it was going to work or not. You know, there was so many things to that night for me. We had nobody left. No one else could have started that game because we had nobody rested enough to do it. Not only was I supposed to pitch, but I was supposed to throw innings. So it was not a matter of competing, it was a matter of going out and being in the game beyond the third or fourth inning, and we did that. Again, you care about your teammates enough that you do things that you never thought you could do.

Q. I just wondered if you're amazed at the attention, and I don't mean just medical attention, that you have received and your ankle and everything on TV, a number of different close-ups; does is it surprise you that this big deal has been made about what you've had to go through to try and pitch or not?

CURT SCHILLING: I played nine years in Philly, so I'm not surprised by anything the media does, in the sense of -- and that's not everybody, Jason. (Laughter.) But things are sensationalized nowadays so much more than they ever were, just the sheer volume of media present; everybody has got to write a story. Everybody wants to write a story with a different angle. I knew if I went out and pitched well, it would be made out to be a much bigger deal than I thought it was or anybody in the clubhouse thought it was. But, that comes with the territory. You know, it was what it was. I go out tomorrow, I've got to do it again tomorrow. I go out tomorrow and don't pony up, then it's all for naught in my mind.

Q. Baseball players are known for having all sorts of superstitions probably more than any other athletes, and fans are also subject to superstitions, especially at this time. What are you hearing about superstitions, and what are your own? We know you jump over the foul line as so many others do. What are you hearing from other people in terms of what they are doing and crediting the success so far with superstitions?

CURT SCHILLING: Well, if I tell you, then it stops being one. I can't tell you what I do as far as -- I've never looked at a lot of the stuff that I do as a superstition. The guys that have covered me in the past understand, it's routine for me. I said in spring training when I went out for my first start and came to the park that day, I was throwing against Northeastern College, my goal was to make that day exactly like Game 7 of the World Series. This year, in the way I handle preparing for it. I've done that for the most part. I come to the park and do the things I do, whether people look at them as a superstition or not, as part of a routine. That's how I get myself ready to pitch. All of the quirks I might have on game day are nothing more than anything that just make me comfortable. The only thing I want to be different on the day I pitch is right after the first pitch and you throw the first pitch and you lose the butterflies and you get focused on the game, that's when things are different. But everything after that should be as exactly similar to me as every other day that came before that.

Q. Was there any difference in the procedures before the Yankees game and this one? Did you have any problems from that, extra stitching or anything?

CURT SCHILLING: Other than thinking it sucked. No, we did a little -- something a little different just to try and make some things not happen that happened the other day. But I wouldn't be able to explain it in-depth to you. So no, it was pretty much the same thing.

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