This Phillies legend still watches their games

PHILADELPHIA - JULY 26: Center fielder Shane Victorino #8 of the Philadelphia Phillies runs back to the dugout during a game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park on July 26, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA - JULY 26: Center fielder Shane Victorino #8 of the Philadelphia Phillies runs back to the dugout during a game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park on July 26, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images) /
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Shane Victorino went from playing for the Phillies to rooting for them

It’s been nearly a decade since Shane Victorino put on a Philadelphia Phillies uniform, but he still has a lot of love for his former team.

Victorino regularly comments on the Phillies’ Instagram posts, showing love for this generation of his former team:

It’s crazy to think that Victorino was almost not a Phillie multiple times. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers and signed with them in 1999, spending three years in their farm system. He was then selected by the San Diego Padres in the 2002 Rule 5 draft, and made his MLB debut with them in 2003. But by the end of May, he was returned to the Dodgers and put back in their minor leagues.

Then in 2004, the Phillies selected him in the Rule 5 draft, paying the Dodgers the $100,000 required. But when Victorino wasn’t able to stay with the big-league team, he was offered back to the Dodgers for the stipulated $50,000. Luckily, they declined, and the Phillies were able to keep him. He made his Phillies big-league debut in September 2005.

Ultimately, this meant that for the paltry sum of $100,000, the Phillies got a future two-time All-Star who would soon win three consecutive Gold Glove awards for them between 2008-2010.

During the Phillies’ second-ever championship season, Victorino, who became known as the Flyin’ Hawaiian, came through when it mattered most. In October, he slashed .269/.345/.481 with a .826 OPS, three doubles, a triple, two home runs, 13 RBI, five runs scored, and only four strikeouts in 59 plate appearances. Of course, 14 postseason games is a small sample size, but there’s also a clutch factor needed to come through in the highest-pressure moments, and Victorino had it. His first career grand slam came in Game 2 of the 2008 NLDS.

The Phillies’ attempt to go back-to-back in 2009 did not end with a trophy, but Victorino was even better than he’d been the previous October. In 15 postseason games, he hit .293/.382/.534 with a .917 OPS, three doubles, a triple, three home runs, nine RBI, 11 runs scored, and only four strikes in 69 plate appearances.

Victorino also led all of MLB in triples twice with the Phillies, in 2009, and again in 2011. It was with the Phillies that he set his career-highs in hits, home runs, RBI, OBP, SLG, and OPS, to name a few offensive categories. He finished 18th and 13th in NL MVP voting in 2009 and 2011, respectively.

By 2012, the Dodgers had seen enough and reacquired the soon-to-be-free-agent Victorino from the Phillies during the season. But his offensive numbers dropped across the board, and when he became a free agent that winter, he signed with the Boston Red Sox. In his first season, he won his fourth and final Gold Glove and was a key part of their legendary Boston Strong 2013 championship season.

Victorino’s final big-league game was on October 4, 2015, but he did not officially announce his retirement until July 2018. He signed a one-day contract to return to the Phillies, a ceremonial move that would enable him to retire with the team that finally gave him a chance.

Years later, he’s clearly still a Phillie at heart.

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