In this installment of the Players You Forgot Were Astros series, we look at the career of Curt Schilling.
Admittedly, there are many Astros fans who have not forgotten that Curt Schilling was once in a Houston uniform. But his brief tenure in H-town and the trades that brought him to town and sent him away are all worth revisiting.
The trade that brought him to Houston was actually one of the better trades the club has ever made. They sent a soon-to-be 30-year-old slugger Glenn Davis to the Orioles in January of 1991 in exchange for Schilling, Steve Finley and Pete Harnisch.
Davis had been a big part of the Astros lineup for the previous six seasons, hitting at least 20 homers in all of those years and garnering three Top-10 MVP finishes and a pair of All-Star selections. He spent three years in Baltimore and was a below-average hitter in two of them, and thus ended his career.
Finley had a strong career, though he didn’t truly blossom until after the Astros traded him following the 1994 season. He hit to the tune of a .281/.331/.406 line with 32 homers in four seasons in Houston.
Harnisch gave the club three strong seasons in the rotation from 1991-1993, making at least 33 starts each year with sub-3.00 ERAs in two of those. The Astros traded him to the Mets following a poor 1994 season.
Schilling was coming off his first full year in the big leagues and pitched solely in relief for the Astros, posting a 3.81 ERA in 56 appearances as a 24-year-old. Unfortunately, the club gave him up in a lopsided trade and saw him blossom elsewhere, much the same way they saw Kenny Lofton bloom in Cleveland.
On April 2, 1992, Schilling was traded to the Phillies in exchange for pitcher Jason Grimsley. Grimsley was a local kid, born in Cleveland, TX and graduated from Tarkington High School. Unfortunately he never actually pitched for the Astros, posting a 5.05 ERA in Triple-A that year before being released prior to the 1993 season.
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Schilling’s career took off following the trade, as he posted a 2.35 ERA in 26 starts and 16 relief appearances for the Phillies in 1992. He would make three All-Star teams in Philadelphia before being traded to Arizona to pair with Randy Johnson as the sport’s most dominant rotation duo.
He finished his career in Boston, helping the Red Sox break their curse and writing himself into baseball lore with his “bloody sock” game in the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees. He finished with 3,116 strikeouts, six All-Star appearances and a trio of runner-up finishes in the Cy Young voting. Despite a number of controversial political statements since his retirement, he should be a surefire Hall of Famer.
But of course the Astros traded him away for absolutely nothing only to see him break out the following year. This is another one of those who truly got away, leaving us all to wonder what could have been.