Lieutenant Island Views : Commentary About Finance, Politics and Baseball

An Iconic Pitcher Hangs Up His Cleats | March 24, 2009

Yesterday Curt Schilling announced his retirement from baseball. Baseball will be poorer for his absence. While many, the author included, disagreed with his political positions, these are the reflection of an American with a point of view. They don’t make him a bad guy, they add to his story. He was a special player in so many on and off the field ways that you can only shake your head and say: WOW! As a pitcher, he was the biggest of the Big game pitchers we have seen since Bob Gibson and Sandy Koufax. If you don’t believe it, look at the records or ask members of the ’01 or ‘04 Yankees!

His detractors will tell you that he definitely had a “big mouth”. It is absolutely true and even he would admit it. Unlike many pros, however, when he made outlandish predictions or comments, he usually delivered. On Arriving in Boston in ’04, he said he was “coming to overturn the Curse”. He Delivered. What red blooded Red Sox or Yankee fan can forget his famous comment prior to the ’04 ALCS about his expected effort: “I can’t think of any scenario more enjoyable than making 55,000 people from New York shut up.” He Delivered. In that respect, he more than Karl Malone, was the true Mailman!

And then there was the famous “Bloody Sock”. Unlike so many high paid players who will avoid anything that would jeopardize their ability to keep playing and being paid, Schilling took a huge career risk and submitted to an unconventional surgical technique to pitch in Game 6 of the ALCS. Pain and pressure be damned. Bloody Sock and all, Schilling pitched seven innings of one run ball against the mighty Yankees in their home park. He scattered a meager four hits over the seven frames; something very difficult for any pitcher regardless of his physical condition. Was he insane, a total unselfish team player, an ego maniac or one of the most courageous players in the history of the game? He was probably all of the above. The performance now ranks in baseball history with Babe Ruth’s called shot and Bobby Thompson’s home run off Ralph Branca as the three most memorable acts in baseball history.

Off the field, Schilling was as intense and driven as when in uniform. We have already mentioned his political activism. Though he has a different political perspective, he rightly should be compared to film icons Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon, who are both exceptional actors who bring out their best in the most difficult roles. Without making judgments about anyone’s specific political views, the important thing is that he thinks about issues and is committed to using his celebrity in a positive manner to support such ideas. Can one think of many other ballplayers who have thought about US foreign or economic policies (other than their own tax rate)??

In charitable endeavors, Schilling was a tireless advocate for fighting ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). He has raised millions and been a strong advocate for increasing American awareness of this terrible disease. Less well known are his activities to fight skin cancer. As with his politics and on field bravado, he follows up his outspoken comments with action, energy and commitment.

While all of the above make put Schilling in a small cadre of professional athletes, perhaps most unusual is the fact that he has no agent, choosing to represent himself in contract negotiations. Some might say his choice is “penny wise and pound foolish” yet he has been among the highest paid pitchers in baseball for more than the last ten years. He has kept the 10-15% that would otherwise go to an agent (read that as tens of millions of dollars) without hurting his relative position in the compensation firmament. It is also worth noting that, compared to a number of Scott Boras clients, including Johnny Damon, Jacoby Ellsbury and Derreck Lowe, one cannot find Schilling’s name on a roster of investors swindled by Stanford Capital.

Whether or not he makes it to the Hall of Fame is for the sports writers to decide. Regardless what happens, he will be missed!

for another take, please link to the following

1 Comment »

  1. […] added an interesting post on An Iconic Pitcher Hangs Up His cleatsHere’s a small excerpt…blooded Red Sox or Yankee fan can forget his famous comment prior to … Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon, who are both exceptional actors who bring […]

    Pingback by Topics about Actors » Archive » An Iconic Pitcher Hangs Up His cleats — March 24, 2009 @ 6:25 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

About author

Mr Thaler is currently the Managing Partner of Lieutenant Island Partners, an organization providing corporate finance advice and general consulting to corporations and not-for-profit organizations. Mr Thaler retired as Vice Chairman of Deutsche Bank Securities in early 2008. His background includes experience as an investment banker, senior manager, business builder, college professor, not for profit board chair and trustee. In his thirty plus years as an investment banker for Deutsche Bank and Lehman Brothers, he has been involved in numerous significant debt and equity financings, mergers & acquisitions, leverage buyouts, restructurings and cross border transactions. Of particular note, Mr Thaler has been one of the most active participants and strategic advisors to the homebuilding industry. In a period of significant turmoil and losses, he was one of the few active bankers to the industry who did not have either a loss or credit write down. He is currently advising several public builders on strategic matters and is an adjunct professor of finance at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. Though he lives in New York, he is a life long Red Sox fan!







%d bloggers like this: