I find the back of this card uber-confusing. Let me try to follow the logic: Nolan Ryan, while in the AL, once struck out 300+ batters in five of six seasons. Curt Schilling became the first pitcher in the NL to K 300 in back-to-back seasons. However, J. R. Richard, Sandy Koufax and Rube Waddell also struck out 300 men in back-to-back seasons. Koufax and Richard did it in the National League. Clearly the back of this card is a little off in the description.
Nevertheless, it’s pretty impressive what Schilling did. In 1997, he struck out 319 batters, in 1998, he struck out 300, in 2001, he struck out 293 and in 2002, he struck out 316. With a few more Ks here and there, he could have done the feat twice. Of course, if he missed one strike-out in 1998, the back of this card would read more coherently.
To strikeout 300 batters is a rare thing, something that has only happened 26 times in the history of the senior circuit. Schilling has three of those seasons. I actually feel like the bloody sock feat downplays the amazing career that Schilling had. According to Baseball Reference, he has the 28th highest WAR, ahead of the likes of Tom Glavine, Bob Feller, Don Drysdale, Jim Palmer, Whitey Ford, Sandy Koufax, and Roy Halladay. Quite simply, Schilling was a power pitcher who finished with the 15th most Ks (3,116) in major league history.
In many ways, it was fitting that Schilling retired as a Boston Red Sox. After all, they were the team that drafted him in the second round of the 1986 draft. They then traded him along with Brady Anderson to the Baltimore Orioles for Mike Boddicker. The Orioles then traded him, Steve Finely and Pete Harnisch to the Houston Astros for Glen Davis. After going 3-5 with a 3.81 ERA but 1.56 WHIP for the Astros in 1991, they traded him to the Phillies for Jason Grimsley. In 1992, Schilling went 14-11 with a 2.35 ERA and 0.99 WHIP (which lead the league).
As an Orioles fan, there is a lot of grief surrounding Schilling. I’m happy to know that Red Sox fans, now, have only joy associated with his career.