Behind The Scenes

Baseball Tonight analyst Curt Schilling reflects on his USO Tour visiting troops in Africa, Middle East, Europe

Editor’s note: ESPN’s Baseball Tonight Goodyear Bus Tour stops at New York Yankees camp in Tampa, Fla. today at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and WatchESPN. Curt Schilling will join Tim Kurkjian and Karl Ravech during the telecast.

ESPN Baseball Tonight analyst Curt Schilling is respected for his wealth of baseball knowledge, applauded for his insightful analysis and branded by his passionate opinions.

And, it’s hard to find a topic that Curt is more passionate about than the United States military.

He was recently invited by Admiral James (Sandy) A. Winnefeld, Jr., the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to join a five-day overseas USO Tour with the likes of Peyton Manning (who penned this diary for, Vincent Jackson and other celebrities from sports and entertainment.

“It was hard for me to tell who enjoyed it more, the troops or Curt,” said Lt. Colonel Patrick Seiber, Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesperson. “It was just great to watch him interact with our soldiers and their families. You can tell he has a real heart for our men and women serving overseas. He was very generous with his time.”

Front Row had the chance to catch up with Schilling, in between Baseball Tonight Goodyear Express Tour dates, to discuss the trip.

How did this trip come together and how did it differ from your previous trips overseas?
The Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff invited several of us to take the trip. It was Peyton Manning, Vincent Jackson, two American Idol singers, Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders and myself. It was amazing. It was a lot different than my first trip to Afghanistan because it was a whirlwind five days. We visited troops in Spain, Italy, Africa, UAE, on the USS Stennis, Afghanistan and Germany.

Where does your military involvement stem from?
I grew up in the Army. My dad served in the Army for years. Military history has always been a deep passion of mine, so I’ve always sort of befriended the military because of those two reasons.

Why is it important to be there?
Many of these troops are 18, 19 and 20-year old kids who have not been home for six to eight months. It’s important to be there and engage with them and show we’re there and thinking about them. They really enjoyed it. Peyton was great on the trip. Peyton’s a rock star and a five-star guy.

Do you find that some of the troops watch you on Baseball Tonight?
They absolutely do watch ESPN. They’re trying to get a little slice of home in any way they can. Before I went overseas, I bought a ton of junk food and a ton of magazines just because they’re looking for a little taste of home and when it’s there, you take it. In Afghanistan, there’s about 500 miles of desert, an operating business, 150 more miles of desert and so on. They’re really in the middle of nowhere. Seeing a friendly face is good for them.

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