The champ is here
WAILEA – Shane Victorino’s heroics on the baseball field are growing to legendary status, but his annual trip home gives him just as much satisfaction.
And, when he remembers his days at St. Anthony High School, he does so with a smile.
“My brother and I and my family have always talked about life and talked about challenges and being prepared when you get these challenges,” the Boston Red Sox right fielder said prior to the start of his foundation’s fundraising golf event Saturday. “There’s challenges in life you don’t expect, for the good, for the bad, whatever it may be.”
Victorino, who will turn 33 next Saturday, has overcome attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – he takes medication for the condition and supports education about it – and played on two World Series championship teams, including the Red Sox this year.
“When I was in high school I was always a competitor, I always wanted to go out there and be the best player I could be,” he said. “Yeah, there were times in high school I look back upon and I say to myself, ‘Wow, I did these kind of things,’ but at the end of the day I think these are all moments – again, I always use the word moments – that made me who I am today.”
Victorino secured a legacy with Boston fans with series-clinching hits in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series and World Series – a grand slam against the Detroit Tigers and a bases-loaded triple against the St. Louis Cardinals.
“Understanding the things that I have battled as a child, as a high schooler, those moments acting out on the field, help me each and every day, to be where I am today and to understand that,” said Victorino, who also helped the Philadelphia Phillies to the 2008 title. “Those kind of moments, these are all things I guess when I’m all said and done, long done from this game, they will be played in postseason history, talked about, some big moments. To be a part of that I think is special, but right now I am just enjoying the moment.”
Victorino was joined Saturday at the Wailea Gold Course by Boston teammates Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholz and Mike Carp, National League MVP Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles, Neil Everett of ESPN and Mark Rolfing of The Golf Channel and NBC Sports.
Everett – who brought Stephanie, his wife of four months, to Maui on their second date five years ago – gets to take part in similar events throughout the year.
“Some of them are one and done, some of them you hope you’re never done,” the former KGMB sports anchor said. “This is the one that is obviously the most special to me.”
It was on Victorino’s trip back to Maui a year ago that he agreed with the Red Sox on a three-year, $39 million contract, the largest ever for a Hawaii-born athlete.
“We are out on a boat snorkeling and he’s working the phones and he’s got Cleveland in one ear and he’s got Boston in the other ear,” Everett said. “And Cleveland’s really putting the hard sell on him and offering him probably a more lucrative package, but (Victorino) is like, ‘Gosh, I really want to play for the Red Sox, I really want to play at Fenway (Park), the history and all that.’ “
Everett asked a friend how well Victorino, who hit .294 in 122 regular-season games this year, fit in the Boston market.
“He said, ‘Oh, my gosh, he was a great pickup, his presence in the locker room, he brought that “it” factor to a club that needed it, he brings that swagger. Even though he’s not a big guy, he brings big swagger,’ ” Everett said.
“The part that I really respected, he said, ‘Man, he played the best right field for us since Dwight Evans.’ How many professional athletes can you name that are legendary in two cities that are as tough on sports heroes as Philadelphia and Boston? He has cemented himself in both towns and he did it in the first year in Boston.”
Victorino’s golf event is in its sixth year. The money raised will stay entirely in Hawaii, including to help renovate baseball fields around the state.
“I think it says a lot about Shane, but I also think that it says a lot about Maui because Shane is not the only guy that never forgets his roots,” said Rolfing, a Kapalua resident and former organizer of the PGA Tour’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions, and the Kapalua International. “All you have to do is look at his dad. I was just talking to Mike Victorino – he has been on the first tee at Kapalua 27 years in a row for that tournament as a volunteer. I think Shane, it doesn’t matter what he does the rest of his career, but for 27 years he’ll be right here doing this foundation fundraiser. I think it says a lot about the guy and the island.”
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org