Beyond the Monster: The Turkey Day Trade, Red Sox Acquire Curt Schilling

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Beyond the Monster is an ongoing series where we take you back in time and look at moments in Red Sox history.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holiday's of the year.  You start the day by going to your local high school Thanksgiving Day game, if you can get out of bed.  The night before Turkey Day is the biggest party day of the year. 

Photo courtesy of boston.com

The first of the NFL games start at 12:30, which means the bets are in, the Draft Kings lineups are set and there is a cocktail in your hand.  The meal is on the horizon and there is nothing better than gathering with friends and family enjoying a phenomenal meal.  

The Courtship 

Let's jump back to the early 2000's, in fact November 2003.  The Red Sox were coming off an absolute heartbreaking loss to the New York Yankees.  If you happen to have suppressed that memory like I have, the loss in Game 7 in extra innings when Aaron Boone took Tim Wakefield deep. 

The Red Sox were in need of adding to their impressive roster, heading into 2004 it was truly a win now team.  Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe were both eligible to become free agents at the end of the season.  Then general manager Theo Epstein wanted to make a splash to help us forget that miserable October loss. 

Epstein flew down to Arizona for Thanksgiving and it was not to break bread with his family but to talk Curt Schilling into coming to the Red Sox.  The Diamondbacks were in a position where they wanted to slash payroll.  Heading into that offseason Arizona had a $94 million dollar payroll and wanted that number to be around $80 million. 

It was known heading into that offseason that Schilling was available.  The 37-year-old ace made it clear to teams he wanted to go to either the Phillies or the Yankees.  Epstein would refuse to be beaten by the Yankees again in one calendar year.  The Red Sox expressed their interest in Schilling and wanted to work out a contract extension to bring him to Boston. 

Pass the Mashed Potatoes, Please

Epstein would have dinner with the Schilling's in order to entice him to come to the Red Sox.  Schilling invited Epstein for Thanksgiving dinner and, if you think about that, that is genius.  If Epstein doesn't fly down to Arizona to spend Thanksgiving with Schilling we probably don't see the first World Series championship in Boston in 86 years. 

This was a test by Schilling.  If Epstein goes and has dinner, he shows he's committed to Schilling and truly wants him to be forever part of Red Sox lore. 

Epstein flying to Arizona was a huge public relations risk for the Red Sox.  If he goes down to the Schillings' home and he only comes away with a meal, that would have been a huge disaster for the Red Sox.

Curt Schilling Has Entered the Chat

Prior to agreeing to be traded to the Red Sox, Curt Schilling would log onto Red Sox chat rooms and muck it up with Sox fans.  According to the former blog site Sons of Sam Horn, Schilling logged into a chat and went over his contract and potential demands.  Some people could say that Red Sox fans in that chat were just as vital in the recruitment of Schilling as Epstein was when he had dinner. 

Schilling caught the attention of Red Sox fans when he talked about his relationship with the press: “I love to talk baseball, but I don’t like to see people in the media write bad things about good people due to a personal issue with that person, and it happens.  No doubt you know who the good ones and bad ones are that cover the Sox.  There’s a tainted angle to these people’s stories because a lot of times they can’t just ‘tell the story.’  Other than the box score and direct quotes, everything else is the writer’s impression of the people, the game, the events that unfolded, and, well, some of them just suck at it.”

If CSchilling_1966 would not have logged into Sons of Sam Horn, would he have accepted a deal to Boston?  Red Sox owner John Henry was extremely thankful for the fans who helped recruit Schilling. 

Pie Makes Everyone Happy

The Red Sox would convince Schilling to come to Boston and agree to a contract extension that would guarantee him $25.5 million, $12.5 million in 2005 and $13 million in 2006.  The deal would also include a $13 million option for '07 that could become guaranteed if Schilling meets specified performance levels. 

When you’re gonna give someone a perfect Thanksgiving, you gotta cook a nice, moist turkey.  That moist turkey, the Sons of Sam Horn website would ultimately lead the Red Sox to trade four players for Schilling.  At the time, the players traded were top prospects in the Red Sox system.  Looking back on the trade, they dealt four players who had a minor impact on the Diamondbacks future for Schilling, who would help bring euphoria to Boston. 

The Red Sox sent lefty Casey Fossum, righty Brandon Lyon, minor league pitcher Jorge De La Rosa and outfielder Michael Goss.  Fossum was the centerpiece of the deal for the Diamondbacks.  Fossum would go on to only pitch one year in Arizona where he had an abysmal season.  Fossum would finish 4-15 record with a 6.65 ERA and would go onto play for five teams over the course of his career. 

The Bloody Sock

The trade to acquire Schilling would be paramount in the Red Sox breaking the curse.  The Curse of the Bambino would begin to be broken that Thanksgiving 2003.  "I want to be a part of bringing the first World Series in modern history to Boston," Schilling said.  "And hopefully more
than one over the next four years.

 

One of Schilling's most memorable moments of 2004 was the Bloody Sock game.  As you might remember, the Red Sox were playing the Yankees in Game 6 of the ALCS.  Schilling and his bum ankle would need to take the mound and keep their playoff hopes alive.  A day before Game 6, the Red Sox's medical team came up with a radical procedure that sutured Schilling's loose ankle tendon back into the skin.          
Schilling pitched his heart out against the Yankees and well, we know what happened in 2004.

           

The Turkey Day trade was the foundation to building a Red Sox team that would finally get over the hump after 86 years.  Schilling wanted to win a World Series.  He made the right decision to come to Boston and Epstein would cement himself as the greatest general manager in Red Sox history.  The Curse was broken and it all started with a quiet meal on Thanksgiving. 


Follow Chris on Twitter @chrishenrique

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Boston Sports Syndicate: Beyond the Monster: The Turkey Day Trade, Red Sox Acquire Curt Schilling
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