Five minutes before he limped out from the Boston Red Sox clubhouse for Game 2 of the World Series at Fenway Park, Curt Schilling wasn't mulling over scouting reports on the St. Louis Cardinals' heavy hitters.
He wasn't downing shooters of Jack Daniel's, unlike many of his Sox teammates, as part of some ballsy playoff tradition to ward off the Curse of the Bambino or the chill of the crisp, night air of Massachusetts in late October. And he wasn't contemplating his place in Boston lore if he and his Red Sox brethren of self-proclaimed "idiots" were to actually pull this thing off and cure 86 years of sadomasochism in New England.
Before the biggest game of his career, Curt Schilling -- supposedly only somewhat mindful of his right ankle and the torn tendon that had been surgically sutured within -- was writing on his shoe.
"I knew the TV cameras were focused on my foot [in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees]. I had heard from so many people that they had seen my bloody ankle on Fox," Schilling tells New Times. So he grabbed a marker and decided to make a statement:
"K ALS," as in "strike out amyotrophic lateral sclerosis," a.k.a. Lou Gehrig's disease, a fatal neuromuscular disease that results in paralysis.
"I just looked at it as a chance to get some exposure for ALS," Schilling says. "And it was also a way for me to acknowledge . . . I know that every time I go out to the mound that there are ALS patients all over the world watching the game."
On Wednesday, November 17, Schilling returns to Arizona, again a World Series hero, but this time for the Boston Red Sox, for the fourth annual Schilling FORE ALS Golf Tournament at Camelback Golf Club in Paradise Valley.
For more than a decade, between Philadelphia, Phoenix, and now Boston, Schilling's career, off the field, has become synonymous with ALS research and fund raising. He even named his oldest son Gehrig in honor of the Yankees slugger who died of ALS in 1941.
So why does ALS research mean so much to Schilling?
"Number one, because it's still here," he says. "The 'whys' have kind of grown exponentially over the last 11 years. The more people you meet, the more you see them burdened with this horrible disease."
As for the tourney, don't expect to see Schilling out on the links at Camelback. After having surgery on his ankle on November 9, Schilling might need as much as three months of recuperation and rehab -- just in time for spring training in mid-February.
"I'm not sure how badly my [golf] swing will be affected, but we don't want to take any chances," he says.
Schilling's got plans for those bloody Sox, er, socks, too. And they don't include eBay.
"Oh, God, no!" he says. "We'll auction them off at some point to benefit ALS, at some place, definitely not eBay."
Finally for Schilling, an effort that shouldn't require a Big Game Pitch.