Youth clinic conducted in Maui sponsored by the Shane Victorino Foundation (photo by Jonelle Littleton, Wailea Photography)

Call of Duty

Baseball All-Star Shane Victorino keeps his Scout’s honor as he plays for the Boston Red Sox.

Eagle Scout. of all the wordS you might conjure to deScribe the neweSt boSton red Sox and repeat member of team uSa in march’s world baseball classic-and there is plenty to say about a world Series champion, two-time baseball all-Star, leading philanthropist and hero to all who believe in doing whatever you do the right way-none say it better than those two: eagle Scout. “once an eagle, you’re an eagle for life,” says chuck hisamoto, Shane Victorino’s scoutmaster in maui’s troop 68. “we teach the boy Scout motto: ‘be prepared!’ it means you never know what will happen in any day, so be prepared for anything. but we also teach the boy Scout slogan: ‘do a good turn daily!’ So no matter what happens, do something good for someone else.” when it’s suggested to hisamoto those words continue to describe Victorino, he pauses, says quietly, “Shane is still on that track.” he pauses again. “he’s very level-headed, in my opinion. he’s able to control himself, and he’s always humble.”

For those unfamiliar with the years and work it takes to earn eagle Scout status, just three percent of all Scouts reach that pinnacle. They may enter as cub Scouts, advance to webelo, graduate to boy Scouts as tenderfoots and progress to Second class, first class, even Star Scout and life Scout. but along the way, just as in competitive sports, kids drop out, dissuaded by the ever-tougher merit badge requirements, other activities and interests, and the sudden transformation in the teen years of girls into persons of extreme interest. To make eagle Scout, a boy must earn 21 merit badges, 11 of them eagle-specific.

“When Shane came home one day in first grade and said he wanted to join the Scouts, i said oK, but if you do, you have to go to the finish. i didn’t even know what eagle Scout was then!” says his mother joycelyn with a laugh. “and he did stick with it through his senior year, even when he was playing five sports.”

“Of all the things i’ve accomplished,” says Victorino, “the thing that makes my mom the proudest is that i made eagle Scout- more than winning the world Series, more than being an all-star. but i couldn’t have done it without the support of my parents.”

Hisamoto, proprietor of hisamoto body and fender in wailuku and in his 20th year as a scoutmaster, agrees with that: “Shane’s parents did help keep him on that track. he’s a natural athlete, no matter what sport he tried, he could have focused on that. but each person has to choose what they want to succeed at in life. being an eagle Scout was something Shane really wanted to do, on an individual basis.”

At St. anthony School, Victorino was an exceptional athlete. So exceptional, he still holds the hawai’i high school 100-meter dash record, 10.8 seconds, set in 1999. and despite his standing a wispish 5-foot-9, university of hawai’i football coach june jones offered the maui flash a full-ride scholarship.

“Soccer was my favorite sport growing up,” Victorino says. “i wanted to play at the highest level. but then in high school i played football, and wanted to play in college, division 1. but my dad sat me down after my junior year and we went over my options. me being such a big guy-155 pounds, five-nine-football didn’t seem to offer a lot of longevity. baseball seemed to offer the longest career. “but even then i didn’t give up the other sports my senior year. I wanted to play.” The Los Angeles Dodgers drafted him in the sixth round of the 1999 amateur draft and he signed a few days after graduation.

“The night he signed his first minor league contract, we were sitting at the kitchen table with the (Dodgers) scout, and I told Shane, ‘Don’t take that, it’s peanuts,'” Joycelyn recalls. “Twice I said it. But he said no, ‘I’ll accept it. If I make the major leagues, what diflerence does this contract make?’ So I swallowed my tongue. “After he signed the contract-it said he had to leave in two days-he hurried to his bedroom and we heard all this noise, him starting to pack. And then it was real quiet. The scout was worried, he said, ‘What, did he go to sleep?’ So I went and checked. When I opened the door, the room was dark and Shane was on his knees, praying. What got him to where he is now is his faith in God.”

He’d need plenty of that in the minor leagues. By 2002, making decent progress, he was with the Dodgers’ Class AA Jacksonville Suns but hardly setting the Southern League on fire. Drafted later that year by the San Diego Padres in the arcanely named “Rule 5 draft,” he made his Major League Baseball debut with the Padres April 2, 2003. Speaking of arcane: After batting just .151, San Diego shipped him back to the Dodgers, return to sender. Professional baseball, at its competitive core, is utterly Darwinian. Victorino languished two more years in the Dodgers’ farm system, including with the Las Vegas 51s of the Pacific Coast League (the town where his wife and three children now reside). And then the king of arcanity was rescued in another Rule 5 draft, this time by the Philadelphia Phillies. Except that he couldn’t make the big league squad, and the Phillies tried to give him back to the Dodgers, but they refused. Ouch for Victorino, a very bad call in L.A., and lucky you live Philly. Because the Maui boy was about to bust out, faith fulfilled.

Assigned in 2005 to the Phillies’ AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons-tough cheer, that: Go Scranton/Wilkes-Barre!!!- Victorino hit .310 with 18 home runs, was named to the Triple-A All-Star Game as well as Philadelphia’s minor league player of the year, which earned a September call-up to the big club. He became a starter the following season, and the magic multiplied. Dubbed the “Flyin’ Hawaiian,” he was an instant fan favorite in Philly, playing the game the right way-hustling, never taking ofla play or at-bat, leading by example, a team player with multiple skills and super speed, and an infectious, positive personality. He was so popular in blue-collar Philly, in 2007 they had a Shane Victorino Day, with fans receiving a Victorino hula-bobble figure. The Phillies ffew his dad, Michael, in for the game, which ended in the bottom of the ninth when Victorino hit a walk-ofl home run to beat the San Francisco Giants. Can you say instant Philly legend? The glory days continued the following season when Victorino helped the Phillies win the World Series over the Tampa Bay Rays.

In 2010, he signed a contract extension with the Phillies, a three-year deal worth $22 million. Some athletes might have immediately thought of fast cars, jewelry and mansions. Shane Victorino thought: “Now is the time to get more involved with philanthrophy and start my own foundation.”

The very next month he did, founding with wife Melissa the Shane Victorino Foundation. The first project was donating nearly $1 million to renovate the Boys & Girls Club of Nicetown, a not-so-nice part of Philadelphia. It reopened in 2011 as the Shane Victorino Nicetown Boys & Girls Club. (Trivia: Name the only other MLB player to have a Boys & Girls Club named for him? Willie Mays.) He also provided Phillies game tickets, T-shirts and concessions to disadvantaged youths. In Hawai’i, he’s raised more than $800,00 for local charities, with every dollar raised here remaining in the islands. The 15 local charities the foundation has helped include the Alzheimer’s Association Aloha Chapter, the Hawaii Children’s Cancer Foundation and Boy Scouts.

“That’s the way I was raised,” Victorino says. “I learned that lesson from my parents from an early age. They were involved in the PTA, the county fair, cleaning the church on Sundays. My dad was a volunteer coach-if a team didn’t have a coach, he’d step in. Both of them were always giving their time.”

“It’s true,” says Joycelyn, who recently celebrated 25 years as a secretary for the ILWU union on Maui. (Michael is an insurance agent.) “From when he and Mikey (his older brother by four years) were little, they’d tag along when we went to a community cleanup or whatever it was. We were involved with so many organizations on a volunteer basis. So it was imbedded in both boys, you have to get involved. I am the most proud, humble parent that Shane can use his success to help others.” Mikey got the message too. A longshoreman and former member of the Maui school board, he’s currently in his fourth two-year term on the county council. All that said, being a baseball star is not without perks. Victorino was invited to do a guest spot on the new Hawaii Five-0, which led to a friendship with actor Daniel Dae Kim, formerly of LOST and now co-starring on Five-0-and previously also a HILuxury cover subject. “Shane’s someone who’s really done things the right way,” Kim says. “He’s lived life in the spotlight for years, but he’s always handled it with a generous, open heart. He gives back to his communities wherever he goes and he never forgets Hawai’i. One of the things I like most about Shane is that though he’s a multimillion-dollar athlete with endorsement contracts and all the trappings of fame, if you’re lucky enough to hang out with him, it’s with good food, easy conversation and family, kanikapila-style.

I never get a sense that we’re anything but a couple of guys just hanging out. “If you’re a young athlete looking for a role model, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better one than Shane. And now that he’s a Red Sox, my family and I love him even more!”

Ah, yes, the Red Sox. Victorino was hitting hitting .261 through 101 games in Philadelphia last season when he was traded back to Los Angeles, coming full circle, again. Or so it seemed. The Dodgers quickly followed that with a blockbuster trade with, as it happens, the Red Sox. But instead of creating a National League West juggernaut, the Dodgers remained a clanky collection of talented parts that never assembled into a team, and watched through billowing dust as their bitter rivals, the San Francisco Giants, ran away with the division and then won World Series for the second time in three years. In 53 games wearing Dodger blue, Victorino hit just .245 with two home runs.

With his contract up, the Dodgers did not pursue him, and on Dec. 13, he signed a three-year, $39 million contract with Boston. The howls and whines began immediately from Red Sox Nation, which tends to be its default setting. At 33, he’s too old, they said. He’s lost a step. His durability is declining.

This neatly overlooks two telling statistics: Between Philly and L.A. last season, Victorino stole a career-best 39 bases and was in the lineup for 154 of 162 games. “I’m still going to play the right way,” Victorino says. “I’m going to play the way Mikey taught me to play, like every game could be your last game. So you play the game with love and passion. At the end of the year, I want to be sure I gave 100 percent every day.”

The Red Sox will need that attitude after what the blog “Firebrand of the AL” called “a putrid 69-win season” in 2012, adding “there isn’t much optimism surrounding the Red Sox’s chances of winning the American League East in 2013. The Sox have not made the postseason since 2009.”

Victorino cares little about the past, his or the Sox’s. “It’s a new season,” he says, citing one of the best things about spring baseball. “I’ve been working hard during the off-season. I feel I haven’t lost a step. That’s why I keep working, to keep my step.” But before the start of the regular season, Victorino was chosen for the U.S. team in the World Baseball Classic, as he was in 2009. “That’s just pride for me,” he says. “Any time you put those three letters on your chest-USA-and to get play what we call the National Pastime representing your country, we’re going to give it 100 percent.” It’s the only way he knows, whether in baseball or in working to help others.

Epilogue: Here’s a final fact, a sort of new lens to look through as you consider the life and accomplishments of Shane Victorino. “In kindergarten he was diagnosed with ADHD, attention deficit hyperactive disorder,” says his mother.

It was a rather severe case, and he and she both credit teachers, coaches, Scout leaders and others with helping him deal with the issue, as he yet continues to do on a daily basis. Eagle Scout. Baseball star. Philanthropist. ADHD success story. You needn’t be a kid, or even a sports fan, to find a role model here, and perhaps to keep an eye on Boston’s Flyin’ Hawaiian this season.

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