The Philadelphia Phillies were the third major league team to inform Shane Victorino that they could survive without his services, thank you. Don’t bother to call, we’ll call you.
The year was 2005, and the Phillies after selecting Victorino in the Rule 5 draft on December 13, 2004, decided that Shane Victorino was not a major league caliber ballplayer and certainly not one that fit into their future plans.
The switch-hitting outfielder was originally drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the sixth round of the 1999 amateur draft. However, after posting some rather unimpressive numbers in three minor league seasons, the Dodgers front office decided that Victorino was not a legitimate major league prospect. Therefore, they left him off their 40-man roster, when the San Diego Padres decided to take a flyer on the “Flyin” Hawaiian.
Shane was selected in the 2002 Rule 5 draft, which meant that San Diego would have to leave him on their major league roster in 2003, or risk losing him to another team. In his brief appearances with San Diego in 2003, Shane disappointed on the field, batting a mere .151 in 36 games.
Having failed to stay with the Padres, Shane was returned to the Los Angeles Dodgers system, who greeted him with less than unbridled enthusiasm. Shane struggled in the Dodgers’ minor league system for the balance of the 2003 season as well as the 2004 season. So, when the Phillies selected Victorino in the 2005 Rule 5 draft, the Dodgers organization shed few tears.
Victorino spent spring training of 2005 in Clearwater, Florida, once more attempting to make a major league roster. However, at the end of the Grapefruit exhibition season, the Phillies hierarchy, as had the Padres and Dodgers before them, decided that Victorino was not their man. So, again the Phillies offered him back to the Dodgers, however, the Dodgers declined!
At the age of 25, Shane Victorino had few, if any, options. The former Hawaiian track star was no longer a prospect, but rather a suspect. The Phillies offered Shane a minor league deal, one that he readily accepted, having really no other options.
The Phillies assigned Victorino to their Triple-A affiliate, Scranton-Wilkes Barre. Suddenly, Victorino seemed to put everything together at Scranton, batting a robust .310, with 25 doubles, a minor league-leading 16 triples, 18 home runs, 70 RBIs and 93 runs scored in just 126 games.
The Phillies brought him up when rosters expanded in September and he made his debut as a pinchrunner on September 3 at Washington and, of course, he scored a run. So terrific was his season at Scranton-Wilkes Barre, that he was named the MVP of the International League and was the recipient of the Red Barons Player of the Year and Community Service Awards.
Since then, the “Flyin Hawaiian” has been an integral part of the Phillies championship success, but also clearly one of the most indispensable players on the team. Shane also has been an enormous contributor to his community and his outgoing personality has made him an enormous fan favorite.
Through the All-Star break of this year, Shane has had a solid major league career, batting .281, in 858 games that have produced 844 hits, 153 doubles, 51 triples, 71 home runs, 502 runs and 327 RBIs. However, it is Victorino’s speed that separates him from mere mortals, as he has also stolen 156 bases. He has also won three Gold Glove Awards.
It was his speed that attracted major league scouts and which he nurtured at St. Anthony High School in Wailuku. Victorino is the former Hawaii high school track and field champion and in 1999, he won the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter dash and the 400-meter dash. Shane’s 100-meter time was a state record 10.80 seconds. Shane is constantly clocked at 3.7 and 3/8 seconds from the right-hand batter’s box.
At the All-Star break this year, Shane is having another incredibly productive season. In 68 games, Shane has batted a team-leading .303, with 14 doubles, 9 triples, 9 home runs, 53 runs and 34 RBIs. For his efforts, he won the “All-Star Game Final Vote,” but could not play because of a thumb injury, which placed him on the 15-day disabled list. However, Victorino, proud to be selected and appreciative of the fan support, attended the game and participated in the numerous festivities.
In 2008, Victorino was named the winner of the “Lou Gehrig Memorial Award,” by the Phi Delta Theta International Fraternity, which served by the great Gehrig, himself. The award is presented annually to the major league player who best exemplifies the spirit and character of Lou Gehrig, both on and off the field. The award was created to acknowledge an individual player’s outstanding commitment to both his community and philanthropy.
Since the award’s inception in 1955, the name of each recipient has been placed on the permanent Gehrig Award Plaque located at the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown. Prior winners include Stan Musial, Gil Hodges, Warren Spahn, Robin Roberts, Henry Aaron, Lou Brock, Don Sutton, Ozzie Smith, Cal Ripken, George Brett and Jamie Moyer.