That’s what some are calling the unloading yesterday of Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence, 2/3 of the Phillies starting outfield. Others are saying they didn’t go far enough and were hoping to see additional players leave the Phillies fold, or should I say, billfold.
After five straight seasons of welcoming in talented new faces at the Trade Deadline, this year the Phillies had to say goodbye to some old friends. Since the particulars of the deals have been well-documented by now, and much will continue to be said and written about what it all will mean for the future, I’ll take a moment today to remember the past.
Hunter Pence was only a Phillie for a short time. In fact, it was almost exactly a year ago, at last year’s Trade Deadline, that he joined the team. But he quickly became a fan favorite with his enthusiasm and ‘leave it all on the field’ playing style. He even coined his own slogan, “Let’s Eat,” when those were his first words after scoring a game-winning run.
Pence brought a welcome burst of energy upon his arrival last year and helped the Phillies to their record 102 win season. But he did not perform as well in the playoffs (along with the rest of the Phillies offense) and this year, though his numbers have been OK, Pence’s less than stellar defense and unconventional hitting style may have been factors in the Phillies decision to move him. So off he goes, and for the second year in a row, he will go from last place to first as he joins the offensively-challenged San Francisco Giants where he will undoubtedly be a welcome addition.
And for those who still feel the need to have something to remember him by, Hunter Pence bobblehead day is still scheduled for August 21st. Oooops!
It’s a bit harder to say Aloha to the “Flyin’ Hawaiian.” Shane Victorino has been with the Phillies since 2004 when they took a chance on the young speedster from Hawaii, claiming him when the Dodgers left him unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft. It was a chance that would pay off in a big way for both the Phillies and Victorino.
So as the “Flyin’ Hawaiian” flies off to the West Coast (ironically to rejoin the Dodgers) here are some of the memorable moments he leaves behind:
On June 3, 2007 the Phillies celebrated “Shane Victorino Day” with Victorino hula figurines. And the game itself couldn’t have been scripted any better. After the Phils fought back from a four-run deficit to take an 8-7 lead in the seventh, the Giants tied it up in the top of the 9th. But in a storybook ending, Victorino ended the game with a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth to give the Phillies the win.
And of course there was that unforgettable moment in the second inning of Game 2 of the 2008 NLDS against the Milwaukee Brewers. It was all started by Brett Myers who fouled off pitch after pitch against Brewers ace C.C. Sabathia who was pitching for the third straight start with only three days’ rest. The crowd got into the act cheering with each foul ball until after nine pitches, Myers was on first base with a hard-earned walk. Then, two batters later, Victorino made C.C. pay as he blasted a 1-2 pitch into the left field seats for a grand slam, leading the Phillies to a 5-2 victory. It was Victorino’s first ever slam in the majors and the Phillies first postseason grand slam.
And that was not Shane’s only big postseason home run. We all remember Matt Stairs game-winning blast in Game Four of the 2008 NLCS, but Stairs‘ heroics wouldn’t have been possible without Victorino. The Phillies trailed the Dodgers 5-3 with one out in the top of the 8th when Shane lined a pitch from reliever Corey Wade into the bullpen for a game-tying two-run home run. Three batters later Stairs hit his historic blast capping off a four-run eighth inning for the Phis, giving them a come-from-behind 7-5 win.
Victorino had some personal highlights as well:
He won the All-Star Game Final Vote in 2009 with a record breaking 15.6 million votes and became the first Hawaiian-born position player to be named to an All-Star team.
And this season Shane became the first Hawaiian-born player to reach 1,000 career hits.
But one of my favorite moments came off the field, when a very emotional Shane Victorino had to hold back tears at the grand opening ceremony for the Shane Victorino Nicetown Boys and Girls Club. Shane and his wife had pledged 1 million dollars to rebuild the decaying structure. He ended his remarks on that day with these words:
“I know for the rest of my life, that I can make an impact in this community. That I can come back, say 30 years from now, my kids can come back, and say look at what my dad did for our community.”
But Shane does not leave us empty-handed. He takes with him two All-Star game appearances, 3 Gold Glove Awards and, of course, a World Series ring. And he leaves us with a couple of things as well: memories that will live forever in Phillies history and the beautiful Boys and Girls Club that will stand as a reminder of all that this Hawaiian-born athlete did for his adopted city of Philadelphia.