If you're wondering why Curt Schilling had some harsh words for Red Sox owners John Henry and Tom Werner in his letter to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday, allow us to explain.
Schilling released the letter after falling 16 votes short of enshrinement. While he focuses most of his ire on the media, he makes one reference as to why he'd wear a Diamondbacks or Phillies hat on his Hall of Fame plaque before a Red Sox one.
"What Mr. Henry and Mr. Werner did to my family and I in my final year has been forgiven but will never be forgotten," Schilling wrote without further explanation.
So what is he referring to? Red Sox fans may not recall Schilling's final season in a Boston uniform, because he never actually pitched. He signed for $8.5 million in 2008, but arrived to spring training with a biceps tendon injury that immediately led to friction.
Schilling believed he needed surgery and wanted Dr. Craig Morgan, whom he credited with saving his career more than a decade earlier, to perform it right away. The Red Sox countered that he could pitch with rest, rehab, and cortisone, and they threatened to void his contract if he went under the knife.
Schilling tried it their way, but the rehab didn't take. He underwent surgery in June that proved not just season-ending, but career-ending. He was 41 years old.
He expressed his frustration in a series of stories at the time, but he really let loose nearly a decade later when he appeared on Kirk Minihane's Enough about Me podcast and explained that before the season, he met with John Henry, Tom Werner, and then-CEO Larry Lucchino and felt accused of fabricating his injury.
"I thought I had a very close relationship with all three, absolutely," Schilling said. "They said things to me in that meeting that made me realize that they never gave a [expletive] about me ... The thought that they might think I was lying bowled me over, because I was taking pain meds all through this time. From '04 to when I retired, whenever I needed it. I knew why, because I wanted to pitch, and they wanted me to pitch. But when I was done, they were done."
Particularly hurtful to Schilling was that his injury troubles began with the infamous bloody sock performances in 2004, when he pitched through ankle sutures and helped the Red Sox not only rally back from a 3-0 deficit against the Yankees, but also to claim their first World Series in 86 years.
He was never quite right thereafter. Ankle issues sent him to the bullpen in 2005, and he saved nine games. He returned to the rotation in 2006 and won 15 games before being sidelined for about six weeks in the middle of the 2007 season with shoulder pain. He returned for the final two months and closed out his career in fitting style, beating the Rockies in the World Series for his 11th and final postseason victory, six of which came with the Red Sox.
Then came the conflict of the following spring, and as Schilling made clear Tuesday, he may forgive, but he doesn't forget.