Curt Schilling was the Red Sox big acquisition in the 2003 offseason, acquired via trade in an effort to bolster their rotation and help them match up against the Yankees in 2004. After they unsuccessfully tried to trade for Alex Rodriguez (who then ended up on the Yankees), the Red Sox had to do something to keep pace with New York and in hindsight, it looks like they won the arms race.
Schilling went 21-6 with a 3.25 ERA and 203 strikeouts in 2004, forming a potent one-two at the front of the Red Sox rotation with Pedro Martinez. He was even better in the postseason, which is where his reputation preceded him and why the Red Sox wanted him in the first place. He went 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA and 13 strikeouts in the 2004 postseason.
He also showed just how gutsy he was (and forever entered Red Sox lore) when he pitched on a hastily surgically repaired ankle with a “bloody sock” in both Game Six of the ALCS and Game Two of the World Series, winning both decisions.
In the four seasons Schilling spent in Boston to wrap up his career, he went 53-29 with a 4.20 ERA and 574 strikeouts. He was never the same after 2004 and had to change into more of a finesse pitcher, relying more on guile and command once his velocity diminished. He used that to great effect in helping the Red Sox win another World Series in 2007. He tried coming back for another season in 2008 before finally retiring.
Regardless of how one feels about Schilling since his playing career ended, there’s no denying that he was one of the greatest Red Sox pitchers of the 2000s and is worthy of induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame as well.