With Curt Schilling announcing his retirement yesterday, I couldn't help but think about what had been, until this past October, my favorite memory of watching a Phillies game in person. (Game 5 parts A and B will forever be my number 1 memory now.)
Schilling started the 1993 World Series with a horrible outing. He lasted 6.3 innings, but gave up 7 runs (6 earned), including 2 home runs (to Devon White and John Olerud), 8 hits, and 2 walks. The Phillies never overcame the deficit Schilling gave them, losing Game 1 8-5.
The next three games didn't go so well for the Phils. They won the next game 6-4 thanks to a decent outing from Terry Mulholland, home runs from Jim Eisenreich and Lenny Dykstra, and a relatively quiet save from Mitch Williams (yes, he did occasionally get quiet saves). The Blue Jays slaughtered the Phils in Game 3 by a 10-3 score.
Then came the most exhilirating trainwreck of a game the Phillies have ever played. Many people who watched Game 4 of that Series must have spent the night in the emergency room with heart problems. The game featured 5 lead changes, 29 runs, 32 hits, and 11 pitchers. The Phils lost 15-14, and took a 3-1 deficit into Game 5.
It was at that point that my big gamble paid off. I was a senior in college that year. I went to college in New Hampshire, so going to Phillies post-season games was rather difficult. The playoffs presented me with a problem. I could drive to Philly for one of the playoff games and be guaranteed to see a post-season game in person. But, if I did that, I wouldn't be able to drive down again for a World Series game, if the Phillies got that far. I could wait for the World Series, but if the Phillies didn't get that far, I would have missed my opportunity to see post-season play. I decided to take the gamble, and got lucky as the Phillies advanced and I wound up with a ticket to Game 5.
Game 5 was unbelievable. Curt Schilling was on the mound, and it was quite obvious from the beginning that he had his A game. He easily breezed through the Blue Jays lineup in the early innings, and got 2 scrappy runs from the Phillies hitters. With the score 2-0 after two innings and Schlling on fire, the crowd, nervous because of what had happened the night before, slowly realized what was happening: Curt Schilling was pitching the game of his life, and one of the best games the Phillies have ever had pitched for them.
Schilling scattered 5 hits and 3 walks over 9 innings. There was no way Mitch Williams was coming in to finish this game. Schilling faced a scare in the 8th, but when he re-appeared in the 9th, the crowd was going wild. Never have I seen such an excited crowd for a pitching duel. After the 15-14 craziness the night before, Schilling's 2-0 complete game shutout was an incredible jolt to the fans and the team. Even after this past October, I still consider that game one of my top live sporting experiences ever.
Of course, then there was Mitch Williams and Joe Carter and dashed hopes and dreams for another 15 years. But that doesn't change Curt Schilling's best game as a Phillie.