With apologies to my late University of Maine journalism professor Alan Miller, it’s difficult for me to be objective when writing about former Major League Baseball pitcher Curt Schilling.
It’s true that Schilling has developed a reputation as a sports personality who relishes the media spotlight and it’s disconcerting to those of us who bring home a weekly paycheck that his video game company received a $75 million state-backed loan from Rhode Island and later went bankrupt in 2012.
However, Schilling will always resonate with all Boston Red Sox fans for his role in bringing a World Series title to the Sox in 2004 as a 37-year-old right-handed pitcher who compiled a 21-6 regular season record and then beat the Yankees in Game 6 of the ALCS, the bloody sock game, and the Cards in Game 2 of the World Series.
He did so while welcoming, and even capitalizing on, the pressure of trying to win that elusive title for the Red Sox — remember the TV truck commercial when he says he’s heading to Boston to break an 86-year-old curse?
Schilling has now further secured his legacy as a battling contrarian by doing something that many of us would like to do at some point in our lives — he punched a bully. Actually, several bullies.
He punched back against cyber bullies who attacked his 17-year-old daughter with vulgar Tweets after Schilling posted a Tweet on Feb. 25 congratulating her for being accepted to Salve Regina, where she would play softball.
“Congrats to Gabby Schilling who will pitch for the Salve Regina Seahawks next year!!” Curt Schilling@gehrig38
Schilling went after the offenders of the derogatory Tweets by revealing some that were sent and also penned a long blog post about what occurred and called the offenders “gutless clowns.”
“This is a generation of kids who have grown up behind a monitor and keyboard,” he wrote in his blog. “The real world has consequences when you do and say things about others. We’re at a point now where you better be sure who you’re going after.”
He then took the next step of holding the offenders accountable by giving some of their names to their employers and colleges. One of them, a student at Brookdale Community College in New Jersey, was suspended by the school and another, a part-time ticket taker for the New York Yankees, was fired.
It’s naive to suggest that what Schilling did will stop cyber bullying and unmask all of those who hide behind the anonymity that social media can provide. However, it does show what can occur when you take the time to stand up and fight back.