BRISTOL, Conn. – Curt Schilling helped the Boston Red Sox end an 86-year championship drought and then immediately started squandering the goodwill he had earned.
Even before the celebratory champagne could go flat, Schilling irritated Democrats in presidential candidate John Kerry's home state — many of them Red Sox fans — by blurting out on national TV, "Vote Bush." He toyed with public office himself in 2009 after U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy died, a plan that was complicated because, as an unenrolled voter, Schilling would have had to run as an independent.
That was the essence of the pitcher known in Boston as "The Big Schill": Outspoken, controversial, supremely confident in his opinions in the moment only to realize soon enough that he hadn't quite thought things through.
On Wednesday, Schilling was fired from his job as an ESPN baseball analyst after comments on Facebook critical of transgender rights.
The post included an image of a man wearing a long blond wig and revealing women's clothing and the phrase, "Let him in! To the restroom with your daughter or else you're a narrow minded, judgmental, unloving, racist bigot who needs to die!!!"
In response to recent laws in several states that restrict bathroom access for transgender people, Schilling added: "A man is a man no matter what they call themselves," and, "Now you need laws telling us differently? Pathetic."
The network, which suspended Schilling from the Little League World Series last year over a tweet in which he compared Muslims to Nazi-era Germans, said Wednesday night that he had been fired.
"ESPN is an inclusive company," the network said in a statement. "Curt Schilling has been advised that his conduct was unacceptable and his employment with ESPN has been terminated."
The 49-year-old Schilling, did not immediately respond to a text message sent to the telephone number he had when he pitched for the Red Sox. But he wrote on his blog on Tuesday that his critics were "just dying to be offended so you can create some sort of faux cause to rally behind."
"There are things I have deeply held beliefs in, things I have that are core to who I am, things I am passionate about. If you ask me about them it's likely I'll give you a passionate answer," he wrote. "Whether you like that answer or not is completely up to you. I am not going to give you answers to make sure you like what I say, let the rest of the insecure world do that."
An undisputed workhorse on the pitcher's mound, Schilling had a 216-146 record in a 20-year career with five teams, adding a .846 playoff winning percentage that is among the best in baseball history. He became eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2013 and this year, his fourth on the ballot, he received more than half of the votes but far short of the 75 percent needed for induction.
A year earlier, Schilling accused the members of the Baseball Writers Association of America who vote for the Hall of holding it against him because he is a Republican. He later said he was joking.
It's a common pattern.
His strident criticism of steroid users earned him an invitation to a congressional hearing, but when called to testify, Schilling said: "The issue was grossly overstated by people, including myself."
Still, two years later he called out Barry Bonds for using performance-enhancing drugs, saying as the slugger approached baseball's career home run record: "He admitted to cheating on his wife, cheating on his taxes and cheating on the game."
The next day, Schilling apologized.
"Everyone has days and events in life they'd love to push the rewind button on, yesterday was one of those days," he wrote on the blog that was a must-read during his days in Boston.
More significantly: He bankrupted his video game business, putting nearly 300 people out of work, after burning through $75 million in loans guaranteed by Rhode Island. To satisfy his creditors, he auctioned off the contents of his home.
Schilling blamed state officials for pulling the plug prematurely.
If he was chastened by any of it, he isn't letting it show.
"I'm loud, I talk too much, I think I know more than I do, those and a billion other issues I know I have," he wrote on the blog this week after his transgender comments went viral. "Like everyone one of you I have flaws, but I'm ok with my flaws, they're what make me, me."