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Curt Schilling shares a chatroom


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11/29/2003 5:25 PM ET

Schilling shares a chatroom

By Mark Newman / MLB.com




Curt Schilling addresses the media along with his wife Shonda during a news conference on Nov. 28, 2003, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (Roy Dabner/AP)


When "Curt38" posted a message at redsox.com early Friday morning to "squelch" rumors and then posted another one early Saturday morning to thank his new Boston fans, it was another milestone in the evolution of the Internet. Curt Schilling used this as a way to communicate with the public during his blockbuster trade from Arizona, showing how celebrities increasingly are circumventing traditional media/PR channels and interacting directly with fans who pay to see them perform.

Although the circumstances were much different, it is worth noting that this example came a week after entertainer Michael Jackson used his official Web site as his sole means of communicating with his public regarding a controversial story. Schilling's messages -- coupled with his chats on the Sons of Sam Horn (SOSH) site -- further demonstrate the powerful community the Internet has provided and what may yet lie ahead.


"I don't know what role it played, but it left a huge impression on me," Schilling said of the fan interaction when asked about it during his news conference announcing the trade. "I was overwhelmed at their passion, at their incredible desire for this to work out. They all had their own ideas, most of them being to screw the Yankees. But I was overwhelmed. I was in awe of their intensity in November when the Patriots are playing and the Celtics are playing and they're having good years, and the Bruins. It was pretty awesome.


"I had a chance to be in a private chat room (at SOSH) with 24 Red Sox fans last night and talking baseball. Once we got past the first two minutes of them calling me a liar and telling me I wasn't who I was, we got to talking about the situation. It was fun. It's what I do when I'm in the clubhouse or when I'm hanging out. We were talking baseball. It was a pretty neat thing."

his views in chatroom


A few things became apparent after seeing Schilling's interaction. One, he stays up late like a lot of Internet users -- the first post was at 2:41 a.m. Arizona time, the second post at 4:14 a.m. there. Two, he truly did not intend for news of his postings to be reprinted at outlets such as ESPN.com. Three, he had to work to convince Sox fans that it was really him.


Evan Donovan, a Red Sox fan in Jacksonville who goes by the name "Evan" on the Sox boards, was contacted by MLB.com and is among those impressed by the interaction of a star athlete. He called it "truly remarkable" and considers it a logical next step.


"A major athlete posting their own thoughts on a fan Web site is a remarkable step toward integrating the baseball nation," Donovan said. "Online communities are quite strong, and people have made friendships that will last forever. If athletes and other celebrities become active in these online communities, then a new dimension will be added to what it means to be a fan. As long as the press remains distant from these conversations, there is potential to reveal the athlete's true character. The fans would then actually know who they cheer on and who they are supporting. I feel new fans will be born, special friendships will be made, and incredibly valuable and insightful information will be revealed if the athletes we watch on TV, begin to communicate with us online.


"I've been a daily Internet user and part of Web communities for seven years and the idea of being able to communicate with my favorite baseball players really brings a smile to my face. This is what the Internet is all about, getting to know people from around the world, people with new and fresh perspectives on issues you are interested in."


Not surprisingly, Schilling used these words in creating the first message-board topic in those wee hours on Friday: "Will be hard to believe I am sure." He was referring not to the prospect of wearing a Red Sox jersey, but rather, to Sox fans believing he was actually the person doing the posting. In that post, he laid out six points in an effort to give fans remarkable detail of his negotiations -- straight from the workhorse's mouth. This is how that long message ended:


"I can honestly say that the posts here have been pretty cool to read, like every other player in the big leagues it's certainly nice to be wanted to this extent.


"I hope everyone had a safe and happy Thanksgiving


"God Bless


"Curt Schilling"


For the second post that came after his trade was announced, Schilling created a topic with the simple word: "Thanks." He also made it clear that he expects fellow ace Pedro Martinez to be the Opening Day starter. With no editing here, Schilling told Sox fans:


"Hello again,


"First off thanks for the tons of emails, very cool and much appreciated. Secondly, and it's not really anyone here's fault, but my post from earlier today, even though I _thought_ I made the disclaimer rather clear about the desire for privacy and exclusivity, was made public. I am not complaining, the media has a job to do, but I was hoping that the request for privacy this one time around would be respected considering the fact that it was all to be public knowledge within hours anyway. THat being said I will refrain from posting here in the future to avoid issues that will most certainly crop up if I were to post here. I'll leave you with the knowledge that I am nervous, excited, anxious etc. about all of the events and looking forward to grabbing a seat on the bench opening day in Fenway and watching Pedro twirl a gem.

Thanks again and God Bless



As of 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, the "Thanks" message thread already was up to 82 posts. Examples of the reaction:



Patricia in New England: "Before you even step onto the Fenway mound, you have already endeared yourself to the faithful Red Sox Nation. To communicate such RESPECT to the fans, as you did, is so rare ... and nearly unheard of."


User "sox02451": "It is an honor that you've graced us with your presence on this board, and we all welcome you with open arms."


User "HK Chow": "... how often does a player visit a message board and post to fans (un-announced)? To say the least, it's a THRILL for many of us to read your articulate posts and gain first-hand insight into your thoughts (without the PR acting as the intermediary, or taking your words out of context.) In fact, you can easily see how giddy some fans were (in other threads) by your confirmation during your press conference that you "chatted" with fans online. Having said all that, I'm glad that you have posted on this forum and we are very excited to have you as part of the Boston Red Sox!"


User "Trotnixon7fan": "As a 16-year-old and a huge Red Sox fan there is nothing more thrilling than getting an e-mail (message) from a Major League player. Just speaking for myself I can say that this is one of the most gratifying things that I have ever seen/read before. ... I had no idea that you were the kind of person that you are. ... To me you have become a great role model and I know most young Red Sox fans appreciate every word and minute you took to write to us fans."

Mark Newman is a writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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