The Flyin’ Hawaiian turned into the Cryin’ Hawaiian.
Shane Victorino led off the Phillies’ Alumni Weekend celebration by returning to Citizens Bank Park on Friday night to officially announce his retirement from baseball.
Victorino addressed the festive crowd before the game. He lasted about 90 seconds before the tears started flowing.
“I will always have you woven into the fabric of my life," he told the crowd. "This is not a goodbye. It’s just the next chapter.
Victorino played for the Dodgers, Red Sox and Angels after leaving the Phillies in the summer of 2012, but Philadelphia always held a special spot in his heart because it is where his dreams came true. And though he last played in 2015, he wanted to return to Philadelphia and symbolically retire with the club that he won a World Series with in 2008.
“This city made me the person that I am,” he said. “I was a 25-year-old kid bouncing all over the place just looking for an opportunity and I got to come to a first-class organization with first-class people.”
The story is well known. General manager Ed Wade and his staff plucked the spunky, athletic outfielder from Maui out of the Dodgers organization as a Rule 5 pick in December 2004. Victorino did not make the Phillies roster in the spring of 2005 and the Phillies had to offer him back to the Dodgers.
They said thanks, but no thanks.
So the Phillies kept Victorino and sent him to Triple A. He became the International League MVP and a year later a mainstay in the Phillies lineup.
Victorino became a fan favorite for his bubbly personality, his energetic style of play and his ability to produce clutch hits and important defensive plays in the field. He became an All-Star and eventually a huge part of the team that broke a 25-year championship drought in the city with the 2008 World Series championship.
“In 2005, I came to Philadelphia as a Rule 5 player,” Victorino told the crowd. “The city and me shared a DNA — an expectation for mediocrity. Well, this is far from what happened. Hard work, dedication and teamwork were the formula for success. Philadelphia, I can proudly look you all in the eye and say this: We succeeded.
“A World Series championship! We have rallied and today Philadelphia is respected — a booming city of winners.”
Phillies managing partner John Middleton and chairman David Montgomery presented Victorino with a hand-painted outfielder’s glove depicting his image and career accomplishments.
After thanking the organization, his teammates and the fans, Victorino hugged the Phanatic and headed to the mound to throw out a ceremonial first pitch. As Victorino arrived at the mound, the crowd erupted as Ryan Howard appeared on the field wearing his No. 6 jersey. Howard stood behind home plate and caught Victorino’s ceremonial pitch.
Simply incredible.— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) August 3, 2018
The Flyin' Hawaiian threw out the ceremonial first pitch tonight to Ryan Howard after an emotional goodbye to Philadelphia. pic.twitter.com/qdZzQBi2kH
During the game, highlights from Victorino’s career — including his memorable grand slam against Milwaukee's CC Sabathia during the 2008 postseason — played on the big video board.
The Alumni Weekend festivities continue on Saturday night as Pat Gillick and Roy Halladay will be inducted onto the team’s Wall of Fame.
On Sunday afternoon, the club will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the 2008 World Series title team with a pregame ceremony. At last count, 25 members of that team, including Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Charlie Manuel and Brad Lidge, were slated to attend the event.
It was kind of fitting that the weekend began with a tribute to Victorino. He got his fair share of time as the leadoff man on those great Phillies teams from 2007 to 2011.
“I’ve been lucky,” he said. “For the rest of my life, I'll forever be part of this organization.”