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Fans Pitch Bids For Former Red Sox Pitcher's Bloodstained Sock

Feb 21, 2013
Originally published on February 22, 2013 10:26 am

The 2004 Major League Baseball playoffs will always be remembered for an astonishing Red Sox comeback and a bloody sock worn by pitcher Curt Schilling.

Well, actually there were two bloodstained socks. But the first was thrown away, and now the second sock is being auctioned off to repay Schilling's debts.

Ask any die-hard Red Sox fan and he or she can recall the game by heart. It was Oct. 19, 2004. Schilling took the hill with a bum right ankle in a do-or-die playoff game against the Yankees.

He had torn his tendon sheath and before the game, a doctor had stitched him back together. But as he walked onto the field, blood began to soak through his sock, forming a big red stain just above his Reebok spikes.

Schilling pitched through pain to help the Sox win the game. The bloodstained sock became an iconic image for perseverance, heart and all the other sports cliches you can muster. That sock — sock No. 1 — went into a Yankee Stadium Dumpster after the game.

But when he returned to the mound in Game 2 of the World Series, Schilling made sure to keep the new sock — sock No. 2 — that he wore, and again bloodied, as he pitched his team to yet another victory.

The Sox went on to win the World Series that year, breaking an 86-year drought. Schilling later lent his second bloody sock to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. After leaving baseball, he went on to start a video game company.

He called it 38 Studios, and he moved it to Rhode Island after receiving a $75 million loan guarantee from the state's economic development corporation. The company went on to release the critically acclaimed game Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. It was full of sorcery, flame blades and even a dragon.

But Amalur would be the only game it produced. Schilling's company went bankrupt soon after its launch, laid off all its employees, defaulted on its loans and left Rhode Island on the hook for around $100 million.

The collapse of 38 Studios pretty much left Schilling broke. So he took bloodstained sock No. 2 back from the Hall of Fame and put it on the auction block. He's selling it to help repay some of the debt he incurred.

Heritage Auctions has already opened up online bidding for the sock. Chris Ivy, Heritage's director of sports auctions, says it's the symbol of everything brave in athletics.

"It's the embodiment of what I call the blood, sweat and tears that it took the Boston Red Sox to overcome the 'Curse of the Bambino,' " he says.

The sock, Ivy says, is in a temperature-controlled vault in Dallas.

Some Rhode Islanders were upset about losing state money to a baseball player with little business experience. But the people hanging out at Patrick's Pub in Providence didn't really care about Schilling's financial shortcomings or the impact on the state.

Red Sox fan Jeff Sowa was more concerned about correcting his buddy about which bloodstained sock is the item of lore.

"Are you kidding me right now? The World Series? Well, he wore another bloody sock for that game. But that's kinda fraudulent. The real bloody sock was Game 6 of the ALCS," he says.

Still, that sock is a great deal for fans, and paying a heavy fee wouldn't be a bad trade for an iconic piece of clothing.

"From the second one? Zero," Sowa said when asked how much he'd be willing to pay. "Game 6 of the ALCS, I would probably pay everything in my bank account. But Game 2 of the World Series I would not pay a dime."

Sowa won't be making a bid on the sock. But Heritage Auctions believes the bloodstained sock from the 2004 World Series could fetch more than $100,000.

Copyright 2013 Rhode Island Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.ripr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The 2004 Major League Baseball playoffs will always be remembered for an astonishing Red Sox comeback and for a bloody sock. That sock was thrown away. But, Red Sox nation, take heart, there were actually two bloody socks worn by pitcher Curt Schilling, and you can buy the second one.

As Bradley Campbell of Rhode Island Public Radio reports, it's being auctioned off to repay Schilling's debts.

BRADLEY CAMPBELL, BYLINE: Ask any die-hard Red Sox fan, they recall the game by heart. October 19, 2004, Red Sox pitcher Curt Shilling took the hill with a bum right ankle in a do-or-die playoff game against the Yankees. He'd torn his tendon sheath and, before the game, a doctor had stitched him back together. But as he walked onto the field, blood began to soak through his sock, forming a big red stain just above his Reebok spikes.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED AUDIO)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: But like a scene from "The Natural," Schilling climbs the mound and prepares to take on this Yankee lineup.

CAMPBELL: Schilling pitched through pain to help the Sox win the game. The bloody sock became an iconic image for perseverance, heart and all the other sports cliches you can muster. That sock, sock number one, went to a Yankee Stadium dumpster after the game. But when he returned to the mound in Game 2 of the World Series, Schilling made sure to keep the new sock, sock number two, that he wore and again bloodied as he pitched his team to yet another victory.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

CAMPBELL: The Sox went on to win the World Series that year, breaking an 86-year drought. Schilling later loaned that second bloody sock to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. And after leaving baseball, Schilling went on to start a video game company.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

CAMPBELL: He called it 38 Studios, and he moved it Rhode Island after receiving a $75 million loan guarantee from the state's Economic Development Corporation. The company went on to release the critically acclaimed game "Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning." It was full of sorcery, flame blades and even a dragon.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO GAME, "KINGDOMS OF AMALUR: RECKONING")

CAMPBELL: But "Amalur" would be the only game it produced. Schilling's company went bankrupt soon after its launch, laid off all its employees, defaulted on its loans, left Rhode Island on the hook for around $100 million.

Which brings us back to that bloody sock. The collapse of 38 Studios pretty much left Schilling broke. So he took the sock, bloody sock number two, back from the Hall of Fame and put it on the auction block. He's selling it to help repay some of the debt he incurred. Heritage Auctions has already opened up online bidding on the sock. And Heritage's director of sports auctions, Chris Ivy, says it's the symbol of everything brave in athletics.

CHRIS IVY: It's the embodiment of what I call the blood, sweat and tears that it took the Boston Red Sox to overcome the Curse of the Bambino.

CAMPBELL: Ivy says the sock is in a temperature controlled vault in Dallas.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

CAMPBELL: Now, some Rhode Islanders were upset about losing state money to a baseball player with little business experience. But the people hanging out at Patrick's Pub in Providence didn't really care about Schilling's financial shortcomings or the impact on the state.

Red Sox fan Jeff Sowa was more concerned about correcting his buddy about which bloody sock is the bloody sock of lore.

JEFF SOWA: Are you kidding me right now? The World Series?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Game 7.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: No, the Game (unintelligible).

SOWA: He wore another bloody sock for that game, yeah. But that's kind of fraudulent. The real bloody sock was Game 6 of the ALCS.

CAMPBELL: So how much would you pay for Curt Schilling's bloody sock?

SOWA: From the second one?

CAMPBELL: Yeah.

SOWA: Zero. Game 6 of the ALCS, I'd probably pay everything in my bank account. But Game 2 of the World Series, I would not pay a dime.

CAMPBELL: Sowa won't be making a bid on the sock. But Heritage Auctions believes Curt Schilling's bloody sock from the 2004 World Series could fetch more than $100,000.

For NPR News, I'm Bradley Campbell in Providence. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.