WAILEA - The statistics say Shane Victorino is the best baseball player ever from Hawaii.
The clutch performances, the 2008 World Series title with the Philadelphia Phillies, the two National League All-Star selections and the three NL Gold Gloves are solid evidence as well.
So, too, is the three-year, $39 million free-agent contract from the Boston Red Sox he agreed to on Tuesday - the most lucrative deal ever for an athlete from the 50th state.
Shane Victorino, shown during his foundation’s clinic on Saturday at Maui High School, is the leader or co-leader among major leaguers from Hawaii in home runs, hits, runs, stolen bases, doubles and triples.
The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo
Victorino himself is not so sure. The 1999 graduate of St. Anthony High School chuckles when asked the question.
"Coming from me personally, I will never say yes," he said Thursday before taking part in a golf tournament that raised money for his charitable foundation. "I look at it this way: I always revert back to high school where people still tell me, 'You still own the record for the 100 meters, non-wind-aided,' and all those kind of things. I always tell people, my reply to them, is, 'Records are meant to be broken.'
"The things that I am setting and the things that I am accomplishing in the game of baseball, from a stand-point of that, I want some kid to come along from Hawaii - whoever is coming behind me, Kolten Wong, guys like that who are getting their chance - to surpass me."
In nine major league seasons, Victorino has a .275 batting average, and his 90 home runs are tied with Mike Lum for the most by a Hawaii-born major leaguer. Victorino's 1,060 hits, 195 doubles, 65 triples, 616 runs and 201 stolen bases all rank first among players from the Aloha State, and his 409 RBIs leave him 22 behind Lum.
"I know up to this point I have had a good career," said Victorino, 32. "And I hope this career continues to go for another 10 years, but at the end of the day it is about enjoying the game, it is about going out there and having fun. I always look at the guys ahead of me, the guys you mentioned, the Mike Lums, the Mike Fetters, the Benny Agbayanis.
"In fact, Benny texted me the other day congratulating me. I sent him a message back saying, 'I'm just following in your footsteps. In fact, you were a guy that I looked up to when I was in the minor leagues and I wanted to be like you when you were with the Mets.' I don't forget that. It was the guys ahead of me who set that path."
Agbayani had 39 home runs and 156 RBIs with three big league teams from 1998 to 2002. Fetters played for eight clubs from 1989 to 2004, recording 100 career saves.
"You could say that what I have done and been able to accomplish in the game might have surpassed and accomplished a lot more than what they have, but at the end of the day if I didn't see what they did and I didn't have something to follow, then I wouldn't have been able to do it," Victorino said. "Hopefully some kid behind me in the 808 state says, 'I want to be like Shane, I want to be better than Shane,' and goes after their dream."
In addition to Wong, a former University of Hawaii standout from Hilo who is now in the St. Louis Cardinals' system, the state's up-and-comers also include Dayton Alexander, a Kamehameha Maui graduate, second cousin to Victorino and sixth-round draft choice of the Oakland Athletics in 2011; and Branden Kaupe, a fourth-round draftee of the New York Mets out of Baldwin earlier this year - those two were taking part in the benefit event at the Wailea Emerald Course.
It was Kaupe's first time ever playing golf, an opportunity the 19-year-old said would not have developed without Victorino's example. Kaupe hit .173 with the Kingsport Mets rookie-league team, but had a .358 on-base percentage.
"He is doing all the right things, he proves it with his statistics, he comes back and gives back to the community," Kaupe said. "He is easily the best player so far that we have had for a long time. He has opened doors for us. When I go to the Mainland everybody calls me 'The Flyin' Hawaiian' because I'm from Hawaii and I know Shane."
Alexander, 21, has hit a combined .185 in two minor league seasons.
"Just seeing the way (Victorino) works hard, the way he plays hard, it is definitely a motivation to play like him, become like him," he said. "The way he plays the sport, he just plays it phenomenally. He's for sure the greatest baseball player out of Hawaii."
Josh Beckett, a 12-year major leaguer who spent six seasons in Boston, said Victorino will fit in with the Red Sox. Beckett and Victorino were teammates with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the final two months of the 2012 season.
"I think he is going to be a good acquisition, not only just on the field, but also in the clubhouse," said Beckett, who added that Victorino's foundation, which assists children's groups, will be well-received in Boston.
"It is unbelievable, the generosity that those people have," Beckett said. "I did the Beckett Bowl up there for six years - it is a special place where people really come out and really support the charity events. I'm sure that Vic's going to get involved with that."
This year, the money Victorino's foundation raised from the golf event will go to A Keiki's Dream, Adult Friends for Youth and After-School All-Stars Hawaii, and helped with a clinic that took place Saturday at Maui High.
"Every year it gets better," Victorino said Thursday. "I always say, 'Yeah, it is my name that is on it, but ultimately in the end it is those that support me, it's those who continue to support me and show that support for the foundation, and helping out the kids.' That's what it's all about."
Kanekoa Texeira, who grew up in Kula, is a distant cousin of Victorino, and pitched in the majors in 2010 and 2011 with the Seattle Mariners and Kansas City Royals. He says there is no doubt Victorino is the best ballplayer ever from Hawaii.
"By far," Texeira said. "World Series, Gold Gloves, All-Stars. I mean, by far the guy's got the rap to tell that he is the best ever from this state."
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org