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October 20, 2016

The Q&A ... with former Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino

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102116_svicto_ap AP File Photo/for PhillyVoice

Shane Victorino played in two All-Star games, won three Gold Gloves, and played on two NL pennant winners, five division champions, and one World Series winner in his eight-year stay in Philadelphia.

With the Phillies emblem emblazoned on his jersey top, Jamie Moyer took the mound on Thursday night in Philadelphia. Shane Victorino was in the building too, flashing a smile for everyone in attendance.

It was just like old times for two members of the 2008 World Champion Phillies, except they weren’t at the ballpark, but instead at the Crystal Tea Room in Center City for The Moyer Foundation’s 4th Annual Champions for Children Celebration. The charity event included guests getting the opportunity to step into a batting cage inside the Wannamaker Building and take swings against Moyer, who turns 54 next month.

Moyer, a Philadelphia area native, started his foundation in 2000 with his wife, Karen, to provide comfort, hope, and healing to children and families affected by grief and addiction. One of their signature programs, Camp Erin, is the largest national bereavement program for children and teens ages 6-to-17 who have experienced the death of someone close to them.

Victorino, who turns 36 next month, and his wife, Melissa, were presented with the Jamie Moyer Legends Award for his own philanthropic work. The Shane Victorino Foundation, founded in 2010, promotes opportunities for underserved youth, providing children in need with educational, recreational, and wellness programs.

Victorino's entire family was at Thursday's event, including his parents, who flew in from Hawaii. 

“It means a lot,” Victorino said of being honored by a former teammate. “I try to tell people all the time which individuals helped me see the work that goes into (charity work) and Jamie was one of the leading candidates. I remember this distinctly, being on a plane ride to Atlanta and he and I sat there and for the whole plane ride we talked about foundation work, the dos and the don’ts, and the groundwork and the hard work it takes to be successful.

“And seeing what he and Karen have done through their foundation, I knew it was going to be a challenge. But look at it now, I’m being honored by a guy that I basically took a lot from and learned a lot from. That’s going to be my speech tonight, that’s it’s come full circle: I’m being honored by a guy who was basically the most motivational and inspirational people to get me going, to get me started.”

Ryan Lawrence/for PhillyVoice

Shane Victorino and his wife, Melissa, were honored Thursday night in Philly at The Moyer Foundation's 4th Annual Champions for Children Celebration. Also pictured: Phillies chairman David Montgomery and his wife, Lyn, and Jamie Moyer and his wife, Karen.

Victorino, who arrived into town earlier in the week for an event at the Shane Victorino Boys & Girls Club in Nicetown, didn’t play in a major league game during the 2016 season. He signed a minor league deal with the Chicago Cubs in late February, but battled a calf injury throughout the spring.

He was limited to nine games at Triple-A Iowa and released in late May. Like former teammate Jimmy Rollins, Victorino didn't get re-signed after an early season release, but he hasn't retired, either.

So what’s next for the Flyin’ Hawaiian, a two-time World Series champion, two-time All-Star, and three-time Gold Glove winner? Victorino on that and more in the latest edition of The Q&A.

How often do you come back to Philly?

    Shane Victorino: This year it hasn’t been too much, and since I left I’ve been playing. But I try to come back once, maybe twice a year. ... Hopefully when a decision is finally made and where we’re going to go, you know, it'll probably be more often. But right now I don't see (retirement). But we’ll see. But I love this place. It’s home. It’s always going to be a special place to me.

Where are you more popular, in Philadelphia or in Boston?

     Aaah. I always tell people I played three seasons there, basically 2 1/2. I played eight (seasons) here. It’s hard, but that answers it itself.

Loudest ballpark you've ever been in?

     Milwaukee (Miller Park) when we were there in 2008, Game 3 (of the NLDS). I remember Jimmy and I talking after the game saying we couldn’t even hear each other when we were standing next to each other. And then the next game they brought out the Thunderstix and we’re like, ‘Yes! Thank You! You don’t even realize it but you just quieted your crowd.’

Do you hate Matt Stairs for overshadowing your game-tying home run at Dodger Stadium in the NLCS?

     Never. No. Absolutely not.

I’m joking. But everyone remembers his go-ahead home run. It's easy to forget you tied the game with a home run of your own earlier in the same eighth inning.

     But that’s the thing – for me it’s not about being remembered for that. And yes, there are other parts I’m remembered for. I think for me, the big picture is we were all a part of it. But yeah, it sucks. My homer was big. But I don’t look at it. Fans do. I get it. But all I remember is we won. [laughs]

What are you doing these days, are you still looking to play?

     Yeah, I mean I still have a love for the game. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that will ever leave you. But you know there are things you think about and decisions you have to make. Family comes into the equation. Being there for my kids, finally being away for the game this past season I saw the significance of being a dad and what that means. Understanding being a kid myself. But circumstances were different. My parents weren’t always around because they had to work to make ends meet. Where if I’m not around I’m just playing a game. So that’s the balance I’m trying to figure out. But, yes, there are things that I’ll weigh. The game of baseball, and my love for the game. It’s still there. I’d love the chance to come back and play, but that answer is not etched in stone. This summer has taught me a lot about parenting.

What did you do? Vacations?

     We went on a lot of trips. But not just that, just the everyday life, you and your significant other, when you’re playing (baseball) there are things you don’t get to do, like go on vacations alone, because you come home and then you’ve got your foundation work when I go to Hawaii. So I don’t get to spend the same time. We went to Europe together without the kids. That’s the type of stuff you also enjoy. And I was smart. I never was an athlete that thought it would last forever. I always tried to focus on living in the now and then also know there’s a whole life ahead of you. Like if I don’t have to work another day in my life, I’ll take it. But I love it. We shall see. There’s no definitive answer to that yet.

I asked this to both Rollins and Chase Utley earlier this year: who will be the last position player from the ’08 team left standing, the final to retire? You’ve got you three, Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz, Jayson Werth ...

     That’s a tough one. Sheesh. As of right now, you’d have to say Chase and Chooch are the leading candidates because they’re still going. But who knows. J-Dubb. They’re all still playing. The rest of us are kind of looking in.

Who are you rooting for in the NLCS (the Cubs, team you were with in spring training vs. the Dodgers, team with three of your ’08 Phillies teammates)?

     Aaah, I just want it to be a good one to be honest with you, and I’ve always been that way. When I’m not in it, I just want it to be great games, not blowouts where you just want to turn the TV off. To me, even playing in it, you can tell the difference between the games. But it’s also nice when you’re playing to be up 10-3 or 10-2, blowing a team out. But as a fan, or even a player who played the game and gets the adrenaline rush, it’s awesome to watch. I just love that these games have been close. They’ve been good series except I was kind of shocked with Cleveland and Toronto. They silenced their bats. But…

It happens. We’ve seen it.

     It happens fast.

All three of those guys on the same team is weird, right? Ruiz, Utley and Joe Blanton.

     Even the ’13 (Red Sox), you look you’ve got (John) Lackey, (Jon) Lester, and (David) Ross on one team (the Cubs). (Mike) Napoli, I think he’s been a big part of (Cleveland’s) resurgence. I love the fact that I can look back and see all of these guys, but that’s what makes it hard for me! I played with him and him, and I want these guys to win, but I want the guys, too. So I just tell myself that I want a good game and whoever wins it, I know I’m going to have friends on each team, so congrats to them.

Speed round. What’s your favorite ballpark?

     I love old, so Fenway and Wrigley were my favorites.

Favorite Philadelphia food?

     I gotta go with the cheesesteak. Come on.

Any in particular?

     Any. Geno’s, Pat’s, Tony Luke’s. It doesn’t matter. I love cheesesteaks. And the visiting clubhouse (at Citizens Bank Park) has some good ones, too. Don’t sleep on my man. [Laughs]

Favorite movie?

     I’m not a (big movie watcher). My go-to movie? Truthfully, the movie I love the best is “E.T.” That was my favorite movie, still to this day.

Did you watch “Stranger Things” on Netflix? It’s got that “E.T.” feel to it.

     No. But I love E.T. man, that’s my favorite.

Favorite TV show?

     Whatever the kids are watching, truthfully. My TV is on their watch.

Funniest teammate you ever had?

     (Ryan) Madson. Madson was pretty funny. People don’t realize it but that dude is hilarious.

Former teammate you’d say is an automatic Hall of Famer? Who comes to mind?

     (David) Ortiz.

Yeah, that’s an obvious one I guess. Anyone in Philly?

     J-Roll. I think J-Roll’s numbers can make an argument. Chase. (Roy) Halladay. There are so many, you can go one and one. I tell everyone I’ve been blessed to play with some great players. Great players and great humans. And that’s what I tell people, when I talk about playing the game of baseball, I never really ran into one guy that I’d say this guy is just a (bad guy). And that’s what’s great.

Toughest pitcher you ever faced?

     I hated facing (John) Smoltz. He was just mean, too. He had that old school mentality. And I respected that. I remember when I was a kid watching John Smoltz on TV. So when I got in that box I had a little of that, “Whoa.”

[Someone interjects: "I asked him that a few years ago and he said Tim Lincecum.]

Yeah, when he was at his height, with that changeup and curveball.

     He had everything. When Lincecum was throwing 97-98. I was the first guy to hit a home run off of him. He was a dummy, he threw two fastballs, 97 and 98 and I foul them back. And then he threw a curveball and I hit it into the right-field seats. In San Fran, in his debut. J-Roll hit a 20-hopper up the middle and then he had me 0-2 and threw me a freaking curveball. [Laughs[

OK, runners on second and third, two outs, ninth inning, down a run. Who do you want at bat?

     There’s too many guys, truthfully. I cannot (pick one). Who would I want that I’ve played with? Even that. Albert (Pujols) and (Mike) Trout, I forgot about those guys. Hands down, Trout’s the biggest freak I’ve ever seen.

But Ortiz has a longer track record ...

     It’s gotta be Ortiz. I don’t know, it’s hard. I could say (Ryan) Howard. There are so many guys who were clutch and came up with big knocks.

Best rookie quarterback in the NFL?

     Dak Prescott. No, no! I’m just kidding. [laughs] Carson (Wentz) is doing very well. To me, seeing what it takes to play in this city, the pressure that’s been put on this kid and the way he’s handling it. Yeah, they might not be off to the start that they want, but watching him conduct himself – there’s a bigger picture. It’s nice to watch a kid like Dak Prescott, a guy gets hurt and he comes out of nowhere and everyone loves this guy. It’s hard. But, right now, I’d have to go with Carson because he’s in a tough city, a tougher market. It’s going be interesting to see how it plays out. But from what I’ve observed, and watched, and listen I watch all of the games, I know it. As a rookie it’s not easy to play in a place like this, especially as an Eagle. But I like the fact that he’s not folding to that, and the way he conducts himself. From that standpoint, I like Carson.

When and why did you become a Cowboys fan?

     Just as a kid. My dad was a 49ers fan. So obviously my brother went (against that) and I loved what my brother loved and I idolized him so I jumped on board. Back in the day, that was the big rivalry, Niners and Cowboys. I loved my brother and followed his footsteps and that’s how I became a Cowboy fan. But when the Cowboys aren’t playing, I want the Eagles, I want the Patriots, I want the cities that I’ve played in, I want their teams to do well.

I know you’re a big UFC guy: Conor McGregor vs. Eddie Alvarez is coming up in a few weeks. Who you got?

     I’ve got to go with the hometown kid, Alvarez. Hopefully I get to see him while we’re here. I spoke to him the other day. I know he’s training. I might go check him out tomorrow now that you say that.

How old are your kids now?

     Kingston is 6. Kali'a is 9, she’s going to be 10 soon. And (my stepson) Keenan is 21.

Who are their favorite teams?

     Shane Victorino: Kingston, who is your favorite team?

     Kingston Victorino: I’m staying with daddy.

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