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Shane Victorino made his mark on Phillies' history

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Shane Victorino kind of snuck up on us.

Drafted by the Phillies from the Dodgers in the 2004 Rule 5 draft, Victorino was considered by many nothing more than a basic September call-up when he debuted for the Phightins in 2005. After making some brief appearances during the month, Victorino started turning heads when he homered off Braves starter Tim Hudson late in the season for his first major league home run. The Phillies won the game 4-0, as they stayed alive in the NL Wild Card race.  
Shane Victorino photo:  Gene Puskar (A.P.)
Victorino’s performance that September earned him a spot on the big club in 2006. Although questions would remain as to whether he could be an everyday player in the bigs, his cannon arm and blazing speed had him filling in admirably for Aaron Rowand after his wall shattering injury, and taking over in right field after Bobby Abreu was traded later that season.

Victorino became the Phils starting right fielder in 2007, as the Phillies began the most glorious stretch of success in their club history by winning the NL East on the season’s last day. His clutch pinch-hit home run, which tied Game 3 of the NLDS against the Rockies, would be the first of six home runs Victorino would hit in the postseason for the Phillies. In fact, Victorino's playoff stats rank him amongst the all-time leaders in Phillies history.

His grand slam of Brewers starter C.C. Sabathia in Game 2 of the 2008 NLDS was the first four-bagger in Phillies postseason history, and his game-tying two-run home run off the Dodgers’ Cory Wade in the 2008 NLCS set the stage for Matt Stairs’ game-winning blast. Both hits are some of the most memorable Phillies home runs in their history, and gave Phillies fans hope that maybe, just maybe, this wasn’t your typical Phillies team who always let you down time and time again.

As the Phillies progressed, so did Victorino. His three Gold Gloves and two All-Star appearances make it even harder to look back and acknowledge that many didn’t consider Victorino a starter in the major leagues. His fiery spirit and hustle made the Flyin’ Hawaiian one of the most popular players to wear the Phillies uniform over the last 30 years. Sadly, all good things  must come to an end, and with free agency beckoning in addition to this Phillies team getting older by the minute, it was almost a foregone conclusion the Phillies probably wouldn't resign Victorino in 2013, and that his Phillies career was coming to an end.

Sure, sometimes he could drive you crazy with his base running blunders and his weak pop outs, but Shane Victorino’s contribution to the Philadelphia Phillies will always be remembered fondly. For many Phillies fans, he was one of the most pleasant surprises in the history of the ball club. Remember his walk off home run against the Giants on Shane Victorino Bobble Head Day, his
work with the Nicetown Boys and Girls Club, his lightning rod throw to Chris Coste that preserved Brad Lidge’s perfect season in 2008, his clutch home runs in the postseason, and being a key player on some of the greatest teams in Phillies history.

Philly2Philly wishes Shane Victorino the best of luck with the Dodgers!

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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Victorino photo: Gene Puskar (A.P.)