BOSTON -- No paint, no ink, no ketchup.
Nothing but Curt Schilling's blood was seeping through his socks in the 2004 postseason, current and former Red Sox said Thursday after a rumor resurfaced that the pitcher milked his injury for
drama while helping Boston end its 86-year title drought.
On Wednesday, Baltimore announcer Gary Thorne said during his broadcast of the Red Sox-Orioles game that Boston backup catcher
Doug Mirabelli admitted it was a hoax.
"It was painted," Thorne said. "Doug Mirabelli confessed up to it after. It was all for PR."
Thorne backed off Thursday after talking to Mirabelli before the Red Sox played the Orioles. Thorne said Mirabelli had been joking.
"He said one thing, and I heard something else. I reported what I heard and what I honestly felt was said," Thorne said. "Having talked with him today, there's no doubt in my mind that's not what he said, that's not what he meant. He explained that it was in the context of the sarcasm and the jabbing that goes on in the clubhouse.
"I took it as something serious, and it wasn't," Thorne said.
Mirabelli confirmed the story, saying, "He knows that I believe 100 percent that I thought the sock had blood on it. It never crossed my mind that there wasn't blood on that sock. If he misinterpreted something said inside the clubhouse, it's unfortunate."
Mirabelli said he spoke with Thorne in the Boston clubhouse about six months after the 2004 playoffs.
"As he was walking away he asked, 'How about the bloody sock?' I said, 'Yeah, we got a lot of publicity out of that,' and that was
all he can recall me saying," Mirabelli said. "He said he assumed what I meant was that the sock was fake and that it was just a publicity stunt. That by no means is what I meant. There was never a doubt in mind there was blood on the sock."
After an ankle injury hampered Schilling in Game 1 of the 2004 AL Championship Series against New York, team doctors jury-rigged a
tendon in his right ankle to keep it from flopping around. With blood seeping through his sock, the pitcher came back to beat the Yankees in Game 6.
The Red Sox completed an unprecedented comeback from an 0-3 deficit to reach the World Series, and team doctor Bill Morgan repeated the procedure before Schilling's Game 2 start against St. Louis. Boston beat the Cardinals en route to a four-game sweep and
its first championship since 1918.
The bloody sock has become symbolic of Boston's comeback, and the Red Sox don't take kindly to those who question its authenticity.
Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said the team "would not dignify [Thorne's] insinuations with extensive comment ... other
than to remind everyone that we remain steadfastly proud of the courageous efforts by a seriously injured Curt Schilling -- efforts that helped lead the Red Sox to the 2004 World Series championship."
No stranger to the spotlight, Schilling is not afraid to say or do things that court controversy. The suggestion that he faked the injury to get attention has cropped up before, including a GQ magazine article that cited an anonymous Red Sox player as its source.
Schilling tried to settle things in his own blog this spring when a reader asked him to respond to claims by Yankee fans that the red stains were ketchup.
"Needless to say it was blood, my blood, and it was coming from the sutures in my ankle," Schilling wrote in a March 17 Q&A. "You're either stupid or bitter if you think otherwise."
Morgan, the doctor who performed the experimental procedure, said the accusation was "hard to fathom."
"Obviously, we put sutures in Curt Schilling's ankle right before he went out to pitch in a professional-level baseball game," Morgan said in a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press. "Sutures will pull with movement, and we completely expected a certain amount of blood to ooze from the wound. Socks are like sponges, and even a small amount of blood can soak a sock."
Baltimore's Kevin Millar, who played for the 2004 Red Sox, said, "It was 100 percent blood, no doubt about it. Why are we even talking about this?"
Los Angeles Angels shortstop Orlando Cabrera, who played on Boston's World Series team, also came to Schilling's defense.
"I was actually in the training room when he was getting the sutures, so I don't see no reason why he would have to paint blood on his sock," Cabrera said Thursday. "I don't know why people want to believe that it wasn't blood."
Schilling has said the sock from the Yankees game got tossed in the laundry. The one from the World Series is at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
"We have no reason to doubt Curt, who has a profound respect for the history of the game and is cognizant of his role as a history maker," Hall spokesman Jeff Idelson said. "The stain on the sock is now brown, which is what happens to blood over time."