Phils' Victorino focuses on kids' causes
FROM A YOUNG age, Shane Victorino lived up to his nickname, "The Flyin' Hawaiian." Racing around his native Maui as a boy with reckless abandon, the speedy Phillies centerfielder regularly racked up stitches and trips to the emergency room.
FROM A YOUNG age, Shane Victorino lived up to his nickname, "The Flyin' Hawaiian."
Racing around his native Maui as a boy with reckless abandon, the speedy Phillies centerfielder regularly racked up stitches and trips to the emergency room.
But Victorino wasn't simply a rambunctious youngster: He suffered from attention deficit disorder.
"I was hyperactive and full of energy, and a lot of times I got myself in trouble because of that," said the 31-year-old, who still lives with the condition. "But having the right guidance from the loving parents I had and the community and my teachers helped."
A married father of three who has lived in Las Vegas since 2004 - when he played for the 51s, in the Pacific Coast League - Victorino has made helping underprivileged children the mission of his Shane Victorino Foundation, which has committed nearly $1 million to the cause.
The fruits of Victorino's generosity have come in Philadelphia, Hawaii and Las Vegas. The foundation has renovated the Boys & Girls Club in Nicetown that now bears Victorino's name. In Hawaii, the governor declared "Shane Victorino Day" across the state recently, and last weekend in Las Vegas, he and wife Melissa, a former UNLV basketball player, hosted their fourth annual toy drive to benefit the Shade Tree shelter and Toys for Tots.
"I've always had a gravitation toward kids," Victorino said. "The kids are our future, and if I can make an impact on a kid and hopefully change their life for the better, that's what it's all about."
Victorino met Melissa and his stepson, Keenan, a sophomore football player at Bishop Gorman High, at a 51s game. The couple, who reside in Summerlin, Nev., also have a 4-year-old daughter, Kali'a, and 1-year-old son, Kingston.
A four-sport star in baseball, football, soccer and track in high school, Victorino turned down a scholarship offer to play football for the University of Hawaii - where he could have kicked and played wide receiver - to sign with the Dodgers, who drafted him in the sixth round in 1999.
Mired in the minors for his first five pro seasons, Victorino made his major league debut in 2003 for the Padres, who selected the switch-hitter in the Rule 5 draft.
But after being returned to the Dodgers in 2004 and sent back to Double A, a frustrated Victorino considered quitting the game.
"I called home and told my dad, 'I think I'm done,' " he said. "But I went to bed on it that night, woke up the next morning and decided to give it another shot. I had a good game that day, and the rest is history."
After batting only .235 for Las Vegas in 2004, Victorino joined the Phillies, again via the Rule 5 draft, in 2005 and earned the International League MVP award, batting .310 with 18 home runs, 16 triples and 70 RBI for Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
He attributed his turnaround to getting back on the ADD medication he had stopped using after high school.
"After high school, I felt I outgrew it and didn't need it," he said. "My coaches asked me if I took it, and I thought about getting back on it. I saw a doctor a week later, and it was a real turning point. It helped me focus.
"It woke me up [to the fact] this was something that will be with me for the rest of my life."
Victorino is entering the final year of a 3-year, $22 million contract.
"I want to stay in Philadelphia," he said. "If I had a decision to make, I'd stay there for the rest of my career."