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  Sun, October 24, 2004


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Schilling a hero in the making?
By BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

When Curt Schilling heads to the bullpen tonight, the Fenway Park sound system should blare the theme from Rocky -- I, II or III. It doesn't matter which one. When the Boston Red Sox righty is warmed and ready and heads toward the first-base dugout, they could play the clip from Animal House on the scoreboard where John Belushi addresses his frat brothers with words of inspiration.

And when Schilling takes the mound, they can play Gene Hackman's locker-room speech from Hoosiers.

With his dominant Game 6 win against the New York Yankees, Schilling has been elevated to another inspirational status in New England in only his first full year with Boston.

If Schilling pitches another gem tonight and if the Sox win the Series, well, they might have to add him to the Mt. Rushmore of New England sports figures, which consist of Bill Russell, Ted Williams, Bobby Orr, Larry Bird and Tom Brady.

Each lifted New England fans to success and near misses for decades.

Pitching with blood soaking through his right sock during Game 6, he is now being compared to Willis Reid, who was doubtful because of a thigh injury in the deciding game of the 1970 NBA final but scored baskets on New York's first two possessions to help the Knicks capture the title.

"All those scenarios and stories were played out through the media and became what they were through the media," Schilling said. "I am proud of the fact my teammates respect me a little bit more for having done it and succeeded."

Schilling was written off for the 2004 post-season after allowing six hits and six runs in three innings in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.

His right ankle was dislocated. Never mind Curt, he was Hurt Schilling.

Once the soreness and swelling were back to normal, team doctors attempted to stabilize Schilling's tendon in a last-ditch scenario to get him ready.

When the Sox were down 3-0 to the Yanks, they pressed on assuming there would be a Game 6.

Schilling's tendon was sutured. The tendon held. The sutures held, even if they leaked a little.

Schilling worked seven innings, allowing a run, to force a Game 7.

"Everyone in the dugout was questioning whether it would work," Schilling said. "But we had no one left. No one else could have started because we had no one rested."

This is the stuff of legends. And Sox fans love legends almost as much as winning.