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Beyond the baseball card: Shane Victorino

Posted by David D'Onofrio  December 13, 2012 06:46 AM

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As the Red Sox ready to introduce one of their free-agent acquisitions, sure to tout him as a player whose statistics suggest he can do a little bit of everything, here's a glimpse of Shane Victorino beyond the numbers on the back of his baseball card:

*They love him in his native Hawaii. The 32-year-old Victorino was born in Wailuku on the island of Maui, and there's a lot of mutual pride between the state and the outfielder who's nicknamed "The Flyin' Hawaiian." About a year ago the governor officially proclaimed Nov. 21 as "Shane Victorino Day," and around that same time the menu at the Hawaiian restaurant chain Zippy's offered patrons the Vic Pac -- which is a platter of chicken, sausage, Spam, and beef served over rice. Those, apparently, are some of Victorino's favorite foods, and each time the Pac was ordered, 50 cents went to the Shane Victorino Foundation. He and his wife Melissa founded that organization to promote opportunities for underserved youth in February 2010.

*He's such a Hawaiian, he made a cameo on "Hawaii Five-0." Here it is, playing a character named Shaun. With skills like these, not only did the Red Sox sign Carl Crawford's replacement in left field -- they also signed someone to take over his brilliant work in those Dunkin' Donuts commercials.

*He's revered off the field. Victorino fits well with what seems to be the theme of this offseason for the Sox, toting a couple of awards to vouch for his high character. In 2008, the Iron Horse's fraternity brothers from Phi Delta Theta named Victorino their winner of the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award, which since 1955 has been given annually to the Major League Baseball player who best exemplifies the spirit and character of Lou Gehrig, both on and off the field. Then, in 2011, he received the Branch Rickey Award, which baseball bestows upon one person each year in recognition of exceptional community service.

*He has ADHD. Saying attention deficit hyperactivity disorder made it hard for him to focus earlier in his career, Victorino joined Shire's "Own It" initiative this past May, encouraging adults to be reexamined by a doctor if they believe the symptoms of ADHD are still impacting their lives. Click here to see a spot he filmed for the cause.

*They were sad to see him go in Philadelphia. Particularly this kid.

*And, after eight seasons and a World Series title, he was reflective when traded from the Phillies to the Dodgers, too. So much so that he took out an ad in the Philadelphia Daily News to say, "mahalo."

*There's a book about him. "Shane Victorino: The Flyin' Hawaiian" was published by Triumph Books in 2011, and is currently available at quite a discount on Amazon for those still shopping for the Red Sox fan in their life. In it, we learn that his parents met while working at McDonald's, and that he's named after Alan Ladd's title character in the 1953 film, "Shane," which is a favorite of his father. His middle name, Patrick, is meant in recognition of his family's strong Catholic views. Also among the book's revelations is that Deion Sanders is the athlete Victorino grew up wanting most to be like, and the story of his first pro ballgame, when he nearly killed ex-Red Sox Jason Repko. Apparently he didn't see Repko -- then a shortstop -- so when Victorino fired from the outfield, his throw hit his teammate directly in the temple, knocking him unconscious for a couple minutes.

*He was a four-sport athlete in high school. Victorino played football in the fall, played soccer in the winter, then played baseball and ran track for St. Anthony High School in the spring. Wikipedia claims that as a senior he won the state title in the 100-, 200-, and 400-meter dashes, setting the state meet record with a sprint of 10.80 seconds in the 100.

*He puts on a pretty good fashion show. It's his Foundation's charity event of choice, having staged it in Philadelphia each of the past three years with the support of his teammates, some of whom got really into the modeling. (And one of whom -- cough, cough, Papelbon -- apparently wore his jersey underneath a sports coat.) Typically the Sox leave the catwalk to their wives and girlfriends, but Victorino could try to change that this summer.

*He loves to tweet. He's @ShaneVictorino.

*He's an Eagle Scout. So finally, after two years of repeatedly being forced to put out fires in the clubhouse, the Sox have someone who can properly start one.

*Every day should be Shane Victorino Day. The Phillies had planned for months to distribute figurines showing Victorino in full Hawaiian regalia as fans entered the ballpark on June 3, 2007 -- though they couldn't have scripted the way everyone would exit.

Stepping to the plate with the game tied at 8 in the bottom of the ninth inning, Victorino was 0-for-4 and his team had just coughed away the one-run lead it gained by scoring five times in the seventh -- though the man of the hour stepped up and drove a Kevin Correia offering to the opposite field and over the fence, his walkoff homer giving the Phillies a dramatic 9-8 win over the Giants, and firmly planting himself in Philly lore.

(Sorry for the quality of the video below, but it's well worth it for a chance to hear the late Harry Kalas call the shot.)

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Dave D'Onofrio follows Boston's pro players away from the field, court or ice, covering their interests and activities in the community and beyond. A Massachusetts native, once his dreams of More »

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