Victorino focused on family, foundation
St. Anthony grad busy since retiring after 12 major league seasons
WAILEA — The book on Shane Victorino is far from being completely written. While some chapters have come to their conclusions, a few others have opened.
Arguably the best Major League Baseball player ever from the 50th state is now officially retired. He announced the decision in July and signed a one-day contract with the Philadelphia Phillies to officially mark the event in August.
The most pressing assignment now for the two-time World Series champion?
“Watching my children grow up, getting that opportunity as a father, to not have to worry about that 9-to-5 grind every day, but to have an opportunity to help be a part of their lives and their upbringing, basically be there for moral support,” Victorino said prior to the Mahalo Shane Golf Classic at the Wailea Gold Course earlier this month.
Keoni Nakoa, a 1999 Maui High School graduate, competed against Victorino in the Maui Interscholastic League. He still marvels at what the St. Anthony alum accomplished in his 12 major league seasons that included two All-Star selections and four Gold Gloves.
“It’s (bleeping) awesome, super crazy, he was so fast,” Nakoa said before the golf tournament that generated funds for a batting cage to be built on Lanai.
“I’m proud of him for doing stuff like that,” Nakoa said of Victorino’s philanthropy in Hawaii, Las Vegas and Philadelphia. “He’s still cool, still the same guy.”
Victorino’s youngest children with wife Melissa are Kalia, 11, and Kingston, 8.
“They keep me busy through all spectrums,” Victorino said. “I tell people every single day: It’s called blessing and lucky at the same time, to be able to be in this position.”
Victorino knows that all of his success began on Maui.
“Growing up as a kid here, people try to ask me what was the answer to why I was able to achieve what I achieved? I think at the end of the day, one I was blessed by God with the ability and the God-given talent to go out there every single day, but two, I think my upbringing,” Victorino said. “And coming from a place like this that teaches you humble beginnings, that teaches you respect in life.”
Victorino, who turns 38 on Friday, expanded on those thoughts.
“I tell people it was the role, whether it was being in Game 6 of the World Series or coming up with the biggest at-bat in my life, it was no different than growing up in little Wailuku, you know, playing in a little T-ball game there,” he said. “People think it’s this mystical and magic solution and it’s different and I said, ‘No.’ I took that game just the same as I did as a little kid.”
With the game itself behind him, the Shane Victorino Foundation “is now taking that next step,” although the exact direction is still to be determined.
“There’s a lot going on,” Victorino said. “We’re really dialing in, is it continue to track and build batting cages, or making sports facilities around the state better or upgrading them? There’s so much need of help. I come back home, I was just on Oahu for a few days, and just driving around, you see those things and the homelessness. You start saying to yourself, ‘I get it.’ “
The Lanai batting cage will be the third the foundation has constructed in the state, the others are on Oahu and at Kalama Park in Kihei.
“That’s the thing that’s hard for me, is to try to figure out and understand what it is, and where the needs are,” Victorino said. “But again, you can’t help everybody — to me the focus has always been about the youth and the keiki and giving them an opportunity.”
Since retiring, Victorino — who earned more than $65 million in his MLB career, according to baseball-reference.com — also took some time helping his father Mike Victorino’s successful campaign for Maui County Mayor.
Shane Victorino emphasized that he will let his father be the mayor and will be standing by only if needed.
“Dad needs to do his job — I’m not going to insert myself into dad’s career and what he’s doing and trying to achieve, but I think people may actually think that,” Victorino said. “Our approach, dad’s approach and my approach is this: If it’s needed and it’s necessary, which it is, then it’ll be a plan of execution.”
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com.