Former Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ed Wade once said of Curt Schilling, a pitcher who won 101 games for the franchise mind you, "he was a horse every five days and a horse's ass the other four."
Former Phillies batterymate Darren Daulton called him "Top-Step Schill," while his own manager Jim Fregosi tagged him as "Red-Light Curt."Schilling believes the latter handle is a testament to his ability to perform in the spotlight, like that paragon of virtue Lenny Dykstra. Unfortunately, Fregosi passed away in 2014, so we all just have to believe what we want to believe about his meaning.
Oh wait, no we won't. Joe Buck has the Schilling-est of Schilling stories, one that clearly shows there was no time at which Curt's massive, yet fragile, ego didn't Trump his love of team. (Red-Light loves the Donald.)
Buck's memoir Lucky Bastard hits bookstores November 15. It's more or less what you'd expect. If you like Joe Buck, you'll like the book. Even if you're not a fan, Lucky Bastard has a surprising vulnerability, especially when Buck is discussing his father's death, the dissolution of his first marriage, and how his addiction to hair plugs nearly wrecked his career. There's some name-dropping—he golfs with Justin Timberlake, drinks with Jason Patric, and confides in Kate Hudson—and a solid yarn about doubling down on pot brownies to disastrous effect. What Lucky Bastard isn't however, is a Ball Four-style locker room expose, nor is it one of the many score-settling memoirs that get published. Buck isn't a big fan of Keith Olbermann and Barry Bonds was an asshole to him. That's as dish-y as it gets, minus one amazing tale of Curt Schilling's colossal insecurity.
During the 2001 World Series, Buck and his FOX team convinced former broadcast colleague turned Arizona Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly to wear a mic in the dugout. This was a new wrinkle and Brenly agreed, so long as it wasn't a live segment. So it's Game Four, Halloween in the Bronx, and the Diamondbacks are up 2-1 in the World Series. Schilling, pitching spectacularly on three days' rest, gives up just three hits and one run over seven, while striking out nine.
Thanks to the new in-dugout technology, the whole baseball-watching universe gets to hear the conversation as Brenly lifts his soon-to-be co-MVP. (A move Buck says during the broadcast that he doesn't agree with.) Brenly says "that's enough." Schilling retorts "I'm alright! I'm all right!" Brenly makes the decision that 88 pitches is plenty because "We've got BK [Byung-Hyun Kim] locked and loaded for the last six outs." Here's how it played out during the game:
But the exchange between Brenly and Schilling was all bullshit.
Here's the goods, excerpted from Joe Buck's Lucky Bastard:
"It was great theater. It belonged on Broadway.
Here is what we didn't know. Earlier in that inning, Schilling had told his catcher, Damian Miller, that he was running out of gas: 'Whatever happens, this is my last inning. Don't let him put me back out there again.' Naturally, Miller told Brenly.
But Schilling could see the microphone on Brenly's uniform. He knew he would look better if he begged to keep pitching on national television. So he asked Brenly to keep him the game…They both knew he was coming out."
If you don't recall, the first ever November World Series game ended in the tenth on a Derek Jeter home run off Kim, after he'd coughed one up to Tino Martinez in the ninth. Back to Buck's story:
"Brenly got lots of heat for pulling Schilling against his will—the whole country had heard Schilling protest in the dugout. But Brenly couldn't call out one of his aces for being a glory hound. He had to take the heat, and he did—with a great sense of humor.
'You fucking guys,' [Brenly] said with a laugh the next time we saw him. 'You made me look like the bad guy. Never again!' he thought it was hilarious."
It was hilarious, but the joke isn't on Bob Brenly. We see you, Top-Step. Now what about that sock?
UPDATE 2:08 PM
Curt Schilling disputes Joe Buck's version of the events.
UPDATE: 11/3, 9:30 AM
On Wednesday, in response to our story, Curt Schilling called Joe Buck a liar, and said that former Arizona manager Bob Brenly would also dispute Bucks' version of what happened in Game 4. Reached through a Diamondbacks spokesperson, Brenly—now an announcer for Arizona—declined to comment.
Update 11/15, 4:15 PM
We have another update and this one is fairly strong, from Joe Buck himself. We spoke to him and asked him to clear some things up since Schilling called him a liar. Buck is not backing down either, however, and told us "I strongly stand by my story. Even more. He can say whatever he wants."
Here's our full exchange:
VICE SPORTS: On Twitter and on the radio, Curt Schilling called you a liar—
JOE BUCK: I know, shocking.
VS: Is there any way this is a misunderstanding about what happened in the dugout in 2001?
JB: Trust me, I'd have to be a lunatic to make that story up…I have a tough time with this because it goes into a back-and-forth and gets the attention one of the two of us is seeking. While I'm trying to sell a book and my publisher would love me to engage in Twitter and all that. I've talked to some of the people involved and I strongly stand by my story. Even more. He can say whatever he wants.