A Goodbye To Curt Schilling, One Of the Greats

Bret HoffmanCorrespondent IMarch 23, 2009

BOSTON - OCTOBER 25:  Curt Schilling #38 of the Boston Red Sox tips his hat to the crowd as he comes out of the game in the sixth inning against the Colorado Rockies during Game Two of the 2007 Major League Baseball World Series at Fenway Park on October 25, 2007 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

To: Curt Schilling, Future Hall of Famer
From: Bret Hoffman (and Red Sox fans everywhere)

You hung up your cleats today.

Farewell, my friend, I wish you nothing but the best. You've been a friend on mine for a few years now, since 2004 to be exact (I'm a Red Sox fan), but even before you joined our club, you had my respect.

I loved that we never had to worry about you giving everything you had; your heart and love of the game never needed questioning. We never once questioned that you used performance-enhancing drugs; in fact, you publicly criticized those who didn't fess up to their sins.

You had your share of teams, but it was the latter part of your career, with the Diamondbacks and Sox, where you made your mark on history and eventually found your home.

In 2001, you and the Big Unit, Randy Johnson, were one of the dirtiest one-two punches I had seen in many years of watching Major League Baseball (I'm only 25, but still).

We had some pretty good one-two punches with you in Boston, too, coupled with Pedro Martinez in 2004 and Josh Beckett in 2007.

You will always have the respect of Red Sox fans; how could you not, after helping end an 86-year-old drought?

You were an amazing pitcher, one of the toughest—mentally and physically—I've had the pleasure of watching, but you were even tougher when it was crunch time.

You own the lowest postseason ERA (2.23) of anyone who has started in at least 15 playoff games.

Your record of 11-2 in the postseason also ranks you No. 1 in winning percentage (.846) among pitchers who have started at least 10 games.

In 2004, you made one of the gutsiest pitching performances ever in Game Six of the ALCS against the Yankees, with a stapled tendon in your right ankle and blood soaking through your sock. The sock will live on forever in Cooperstown, just as the memory of that game will live on forever in my mind.

You began your career as a Red Sox, and I can only think that it's destiny that you ended it in Boston, too.

Even though you are 42 years old now, I was hoping for a mid-season return to the rotation. There is nobody I would rather have on the mound than you during the late-season push leading to a playoff run, something we have grown accustomed to since you came to Boston.

But I'm glad that you were able to go out on a good note, winning your last game  in the 2007 World Series against the Colorado Rockies. I am forever grateful to you for helping restore one of the most storied franchises in sports history to greatness.

You hung up your cleats today.

Farewell, my friend, I wish you nothing but the best.