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K ALS!
A tribute to Curt Schilling's "Bloody Sock" performances in Oct 2004

This piece has been pledged to benefit the ALSA.org charity
Details to follow

Below are photos of a life size, solid wood sculpture of Curt Schilling's right leg. Everything you see is wood; even the dirt and brick.

The blood stain is visible on the outside of the right foot. This piece depticts Schilling's leg in Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS vs the Yankees, which was the first time he had resorted to this radical surgical procedure in order to be able to pitch. As a result of the publicity generated by photos of this bloodstain, Schilling wrote in silver on his right shoe the next time he pitched, against St. Louis in the World Series. He wrote "K ALS", which was baseball shorthand for: "Strikeout Amyotrophic Lateral Schlerosis".

Schilling knew that cameras would be focused on the sock and shoe and took the opportunity to raise awareness for the ALS charitable cause. This was my inspiration for doing the statue in the first place--the idea that instead of being focused on the St. Louis hitters, he took a little time to recognize a worthy cause and to help others. I thought that I could do something similar with my art and so I decided to depict this story in wood.

The Story:

On October 19, 2004, Curt Schilling won Game 6 of the 2004 American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees despite playing on an injured ankle. Schilling had sutures stitched into his right ankle to hold an injured tendon in place so he could pitch in Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS, and repeated the procedure again in Game 2 of the World Series. In both cases, blood could be seen seeping through Schilling's sock. The win forced a Game 7, which the Red Sox won, thus becoming the first team in MLB history to come back from three-games-down in a best of seven series. Schilling pitched (and won) Game 2 of the 2004 World Series for the Red Sox against the St. Louis Cardinals. In both series, he had to have the tendon in his right ankle stabilized, in what has become known as the "Schilling Tendon Procedure", after the tendon sheath was torn during his Game 1 ALDS appearance. As in Game 6 of the ALCS, Schilling's sock was soaked with blood from the sutures used in this medical procedure, but he pitched seven strong innings, giving up only one run on four hits. This second example of a bloody sock was put on display in the Baseball Hall of Fame after Boston's victory over St. Louis in the World Series.

When Curt Schilling pitched those two games in the 2004 postseason, with his tendon sutured in place and oozing blood, Schilling gave us something to draw on in our own times of adversity. What's inspirational to me is Curt Schilling's continued charitable works. He could retire to his family and withdraw but he remains active and works for various causes such as Shade Foundation and the fight against ALS.

With that in mind, I set about creating a fitting tribute to the man and those remarkable baseball achievements. I deliberately kept the piece devoid of any markings or explanations. The only reminder needed to any of those who saw it, is the red stain on the sanitary sock, down low near the shoe. And realize that it wasn't a large, dramatic stain; if you weren't looking you would have missed it. But it revealed a deeper level of commitment.

-- Brian Birrer July, 2011

Nearly complete, the piece is taken out of the shop and into the sun for a few photos:



Below: Various, early stages of completion:

In completely natural wood before any paint, while a solid wood Jackie Robinson looks on

Without paint, you can see the construction. The 4" x 6" beam goes all the way through to the wooden base.
The reddish wood is the old pine beam. The lighter color wood had to be laminated on for the needed thickness to be reached.

From the top. Note the beautiful 4" x 6" beam from the 1930's. They don't mill them like that anymore!
Those are real nailholes. This beam was part of a building for the last 80 years awaiting a renovation and rebirth as a piece of baseball Art!

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