At Their Best
Exclusive interviews with local legends and legends-to-be, from Shane Victorino and Tory Burch to young actress Patricia Raven and beer guru Lew Bryson.
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Shane Victorino is a world champion, an MLB All-Star, a two-time Gold Glove centerfielder and even a former Eagle Scout. Within hours of this interview, our Best Pro Athlete will launch his Flyin’ Hawaiian All-Stars, an arm of his Shane Victorino Foundation. He won’t disappoint on the field either, homering in a 4-0 Phillies win over the St. Louis Cardinals. But the real winner is the Boys & Girls Club of Nicetown, which is undergoing a three-year, almost $1 million remodeling and eventual renaming. Next up: the Boys & Girls Club of Maui, on Victorino’s native island. On Aug. 16, his nonprofit for underprivileged youth, here and in Hawaii, will stage an All-Star Celebrity Fashion Show at the Union League. November brings his third annual charity golf tournament in Maui. For now, he’s just inked a three-year contract and has been scouting homes, perhaps in Blue Bell near teammate Ryan Howard, and not far from one of his favorite haunts, this year’s Best Sushi winner Blue Fin in Plymouth Meeting.
MLT: You’re a switch-hitter, so what hand do you eat sushi with?
Shane Victorino: Both hands. Whichever one’s open at the time.
MLT: You’ve always been charitable, taking on Alzheimer’s in honor of your late grandmother and also childhood cancer in your home state. Why start a foundation to help less fortunate kids?
SV: My father always said that, if I was ever in a position to help others, I should do it. It’s embedded in me. Kids impact the future. I have my own healthy children (his third is due in October). My kids are privileged—but look at the underprivileged, like those in Nicetown who have had a hard place to grow up in. I remember what the Boys & Girls Club meant to some of my friends. You might not think we have one [in Hawaii], but poverty lives everywhere.
MLT: Who would’ve thought Philly would fall in love with a Hawaiian Eagle Scout born in November 1980, a month after the Phillies won what looked like it might be their only World Series title?
SV: To be one of their’s, all you have to do is play the game the right way, work hard, run, hustle and have a love of the game. It’s also my competitive nature—and here, that’s what they want. You can go 0-for-4. As long as you’re busting your butt, they’ll love you. One father said he tells his son to watch me because he wants him to play like me. That means more than being an All-Star or a world champion. He tells him, “Play like Shane.” To be voted in (as a 2009 All-Star with a record-breaking 15.6 million votes) was amazing. It’s why I wanted to re-sign here.
MLT: When you signed your three-year, $22 million deal, you said you felt like “one of the guys.” What did you mean?
SV: You can go year to year and wonder where you fit in the picture. But now, for the next three years, I know I’ll be here—that I’m counted on—and that creates a sense of belonging. [Phillies GM] Ruben [Amaro] has done a tremendous job locking many of us up. I’m playing somewhere where we’re going to have a shot at a championship every year.
MLT: What does Howard’s five-year, $125 million contract mean to you and others on the team?
SV: Great players are due what they are due. Ryan is one of the top five hitters in baseball—collectively. He’s hit .300 before, and he can hit .300 again. His power has been there every year. He was due. It sends the right message to all of us. Is it out of control? How can I say no?
I’m a player, so I want to make as much money as I can. But it’s also why it’s easier for me to give back.
To learn more, visit shanevictorino.com.