Remembering the 'Bloody Sock' Game, Five Years Later
Editor’s Note: On Oct. 19, 2004, Curt Schilling delivered one of the most memorable performances of his career. He allowed one run in seven innings in Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees after having a dislocated tendon in his right ankle sutured into place. The Red Sox’ 4-2 win positioned the team for a winner-take-all Game 7 in Yankee Stadium. The Sox won that game, completing an unprecedented comeback from a 3-0 series deficit en route to the franchise’s first World Series title in 86 years. Here, Schilling offers his recollections of his Game 6 performance, five years later.
I knew I was going to start, but had no idea how I was going to pitch. The ankle, after having been sutured the night before, was holding up a lot better than we’d thought. I was surprised at the amount of bleeding that occurred overnight, and I am sure the maids were a bit worried when they changed my sheets that morning.
I didn’t do anything really abnormal in the day leading up to the start. I did a few more windups in my hotel room than normal, to try and push it a bit to make sure it wasn’t going to pop.
The thing I most vividly remember from the hours leading up to the start was hitting the top step in Yankee Stadium. When I went out to pitch Game 1, when I hit the top step to walk to the bullpen, my ankle buckled and the tendon popped out of place. That was the first time I knew I might have a problem.
It was about the 50th time I had faced the Yankees that year, and I knew it would be the last, so I came out of my bullpen having done some things different. Whereas I usually made sure I had fastball command and my split, I worked my ass off in that pen to get a feel for my curveball and slider right off the bat since I wanted to use them for all nine innings, instead of here and there.
In Game 6, there was no specific moment when I knew that I would make it through the game. After pitch one, I never really thought much on it. It held up I think because I never favored it, or at least never felt like I did. In watching some highlights I do notice I limped, but I never thought I was limping.
I only realized the ankle was bleeding for one reason. I received multiple Marcaine injections from April on, each start, and as the season wore on I started needing to get in-game injections as well. This game I needed to have it done again, and the Marcaine made the outer half of my foot numb (which was a whole other problem).
In doing so it made me feel as though my shoe wasn’t on right, so I kept pressing down on the bottom of my shoe to move my foot side to side to try and “feel” as if my foot was firmly in my shoe. That’s how I noticed, in about the fifth or sixth inning, that the sole of my shoe and my sock were soaked with blood. You ever walk in the rain in your socks? That’s how it felt. Problem was that it was cold out, too, so that made the blood cold and I could feel it on half my foot.
In looking back on it, the main thing I take away from that game was my mental ability to overcome anything. I got past the ankle pain and into a state of mind that had me completely focused on the game.
I probably did more damage to the ankle than I would have liked. When they opened my ankle up after the season they told me that my peroneal tendon, in addition to being dislocated, was split, lengthwise, for about five inches and wedged over the ankle bone. In a way that was a good thing because it sort of locked itself down.
I made it through seven innings, and when I was done, I sat on the bench. I’ve often talked about the spiritual experience that entire two-week period was, and after I came out of this game it really hit me hard.
I had prayed hard, never once to “win” but just to be able to compete. I couldn’t do that in Game 1 because in a spiritual and physical sense I had tried to “go it alone.” Before Game 2 I had prayed with Mike Timlin and Tim Wakefield, and I prayed ONLY for the ability to compete. I prayed for that with the belief that with the eight guys playing behind me, and my ability to pitch, I could beat them on one foot if I could just compete.
Looking back on it five years later, it was a much more meaningful event from a faith and spiritual standpoint than from a performance standpoint. I am proud of what we did that night, but I am far more excited about what I was able to experience in my relationship with Christ that night. I knew, postgame, when I started the press conference off by thanking the Lord and the entire media contingent rolled its eyes, how they were going to report it. Whatever they did, I knew they couldn’t come close to conveying what I had experienced.
My lasting memory of that game — more than anything that happened while I was on the mound — is of Keith Foulke. Every memory I have of that postseason has Keith in it. He pitched every stinking game and dominated, on fumes.