Historic baseballs always have been the rage. The same goes for bats, jerseys, cleats -- and even socks.
Which makes the following so sad: The blood-stained sock that Curt Schilling, who is now financially strapped, wore for the Boston Red Sox against the St. Louis Cardinals during Game 2 of the 2004 World Series will go up for auction next month to the highest bidder.
Say it ain't so, Curt.
For the longest time, The Sock was exactly where it should be, and that is in the public domain. Schilling loaned it to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. There, fans could see The Sock, which represented the thing that most symbolized what the Red Sox finally accomplished after decades of getting zapped by The Curse of the Bambino.
Or were the New York Yankees just better?
Whatever the case, the Red Sox had issues in pursuit of a World Series championship after they sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees after the 1919 season. If they weren't encountering a sizzling Bob Gibson in '67 to make their "Impossible Dream" season truly impossible when it came to going all the way, they were suffering from a Bucky Dent, a Bill Buckner or an Aaron Boone.
Then came 2004, and The Bloody Sock.
I should say The Bloody Socks.
During much of that American League Championship Series, the Yankees did what they mostly had done against the Red Sox through the years: They dominated and they humiliated. The Bronx Bombers roared to a 3-0 series lead, but then the strangest thing happened.
The Red Sox didn't collapse. In fact, they rallied. They became the only team in baseball history to win a seven-game series after losing the first three, and Game 6 was huge.
That's when Schilling went from pitcher to legend.
Despite tearing a tendon in his right ankle earlier in the playoffs, Schilling refused to sit. He had doctors suture his torn tendon into place with an unprecedented procedure, and he took the mound. Schilling eventually pitched seven of the gutsiest innings in baseball history on the way to a 4-2 victory for the Red Sox .
The national television cameras kept showing the redness around Schilling's right ankle. And, no, I'm not referring to the color of the stirrups. It was blood from Schilling's injury.
According to reports, that ALCS bloody sock Schilling had worn was dumped in the trash at Yankee Stadium. (Insert your best conspiracy theory here). That other bloody sock remained from the 2004 World Series, and Schilling quickly loaned it to the Hall of Fame.
Good. Every item of significance in baseball history either should be in Cooperstown permanently or on loan -- you know, as in "indefinitely," along the way to "permanently."
If those items aren't at the Hall of Fame, they should reside in the museums of various teams.
Things happen, of course.
Don Larsen is the only person to pitch a perfect game during the World Series. That was more than 56 years ago, when he jumped into the outstretched arms of New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra for one of the greatest pictures ever.
Let's hit fast forward. After turning 83 last year, Larsen began to fret even more over the financial futures of his two grandsons. He told reporters last October, "I've been thinking about it for a bit. I'm not getting younger, and I don't know how much longer I'll be around. I want to make sure they can both go to college, which isn't cheap these days."
So Larsen reached deep into his closet in Idaho to pull out the jersey he wore during that perfect game.
He auctioned it for $756,000.
It wasn't exactly the $4.4 million that somebody fetched in 2011 for a Babe Ruth jersey. Still, that was a nice chunk of change for Larsen, and it went for a deserving cause.
Added Larsen, "I had only worn it three times, but we were entitled to keep it. I kept it in my closet, and it was in great condition."
Great enough for Cooperstown, but I understand.
Just like I understand the plight of Andy Jerpe, who sauntered over to a group of cherry trees outside of Forbes Field on Oct. 13, 1960, to find a baseball. He was 14 at the time.
After a while, Jerpe realized it was a home-run ball. Soon after that, he realized it was THE home-run ball, which was slammed moments before by Bill Mazeroski to win Game 7 of the World Series for the hometown Pittsburgh Pirates against the Yankees.
Jerpe worked his way through the crowd into the Pirates' clubhouse, where Mazeroski and others signed the ball. But the following spring, Jerpe allowed friends to talk him into using the ball during an impromptu pickup game, or something.
One swing, and the ball was lost in the weeds.
Nobody ever has produced it.
If somebody does, that person can return it to Jerpe, and then Jerpe can enjoy it for a while before "loaning" it to Cooperstown.
Well ... If Jerpe doesn't need the money.