You have to imagine what it was like being Don Carcieri in the harsh winter of 2010. As Rhode Island’s governor, a Republican in an overwhelmingly Democratic state, he had come into office seven years earlier as a business executive turned politician, vowing to retool the state’s corroded economy.
But that winter, Rhode Island was on the precipice of economic ruin. Its unemployment rate was pushing up against 12 percent — fourth worst in the nation — and three of its cities were careening toward bankruptcy. Facing term limits, Mr. Carcieri had only months left to do something to arrest the steep decline.
And that’s when Don Carcieri ran into Curt Schilling, the revered former Boston Red Sox ace — the man who had famously bled through a sock while pitching his team to its first World Series title in 86 years. That March, Mr. Carcieri attended a fund-raiser for a prospective documentary at Mr. Schilling’s 25-acre estate in Medfield, Mass. The two men exchanged pleasantries in the living room before the talk turned abruptly to business.
“I said, ‘Well, what are you doing?’ ” Mr. Carcieri recalled when I met him recently, at a Panera Bread in East Greenwich, R.I., his hometown. “And he said, ‘I’ve got this business, this company, creating video games.’ Which I knew nothing about — my grandkids know more about it than I do. But he was describing it. He said: ‘It’s a great little company, it’s growing,’ et cetera. And he was looking to grow it further.”
More to the point, Mr. Schilling let drop that he wasn’t getting much help in Massachusetts when it came to the financing he needed to expand, and he was frustrated. You can imagine the heralding trumpets that must have been blasting in Mr. Carcieri’s ears as he listened to Mr. Schilling dangle hundreds of jobs in front of him.