SHANE VICTORINO REMEMBERS THE 2013 WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP
By: Aaron Janfaza
Former Red Sox right fielder Shane Victorino only had one speed on the diamond: full-speed! Red Sox followers quickly noticed his hustle and intensity and he became a fan favorite from the moment they first saw him in action.
“My older brother, Mike, gave me some great advice when I first started playing as a youngster. He told me, ‘Play every game as if it is your last one. That way you will never have to second-guess your effort. And you never know when it will all come to an end.”
Shane officially retired from baseball on August 3, 2018, when he was honored by his longtime team, the Philadelphia Phillies. He was feted in a moving pre-game ceremony before 33,737 cheering Phillies fans.
Victorino, who played in 1,299 regular season games and an additional 60 playoff games, says, “Now that I am officially retired. It feels good to say I played every one of those games as if it was my last game. And I hope that Red Sox fans feel that way!”
WELCOME TO BOSTON!
In December 2012, Shane was a free agent weighing strong offers from the Red Sox and the Cleveland Indians. His decision process tells a lot about his competitive streak.
“Here’s how I made my decision,” he says with a chuckle. “I’m watching an ESPN special on the great rivalries in sports, Army-Navy, USC-UCLA, the like. And they ended the special by naming the Red Sox-Yankees as the greatest sports rivalry of all-time.
“And I thought immediately, I have a chance to go to Boston and play in the greatest sports rivalry ever at least 18 times a year. Of course I’m signing with Boston, I can’t miss that opportunity!”
Reminded that the 2012 Red Sox had the club’s worst full-season record since 1965, he says, “I knew that Boston would put together a strong team. Boston demands a winning team. And they had a nucleus of top players like Papi, Pedroia, Lester, and Ellsbury.
“And then they signed free agents that had always won. I knew Jonny Gomes, and I knew David Ross, and Ryan Dempster,” he says emphatically. “Those guys and Stephen Drew, and Mike Napoli, they all signed on to play for a winner.”
And how did he feel when spring training ended in 2013, and the team headed north? “The same way I did when camp opened. I knew that team would win a lot of games.”
THE FLYIN’ HAWAIIAN
Shane started the season strong with six hits against the Yankees in a three-game series in New York, and he got his share of Bronx cheers. And next he handled right field in Fenway Park as if he had been playing there his whole career. When the team headed to Cleveland after their Patriots Day win he was hitting over .300 and he had injected the energy that had been missing from the Red Sox in 2012.
Then the unthinkable happened. At 2:49 PM, 40 minutes after the Red Sox game had ended, two bombs planted near the finish line of the Boston Marathon by brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaevexploded, killing three spectators and wounding 264 others. The streets around Copley Square immediately became a triage for injured spectators.
Shane says, “We were getting ready to go to the airport and word spread that something awful had happened within a mile or two of Fenway. At first there were conflicting stories but when we learned the truth we were shocked.
“We knew we had to do something to help the city,” he says. “We were stuck 800 miles away in Cleveland but we came up with the “617” uniform in the dugout and that made us feel connected.”
Following the tragedy Red Sox players, support personal for the team, and front office employees were all involved in providing assistance to those impacted by the tragedy. In the remaining home games and the eight postseason games the club recognized public safety officers, caregivers, and survivors in pregame ceremonies.
Looking back on the efforts of the players, Victorino says, “We knew how passionate Red Sox fans were but we learned how much they loved their team when we talked directly to the fans,” he says. “When we saw how much our visits meant to them, we felt fortunate to be able to help the city and its fans.
“At the time we wanted to minimize any media coverage of our visits, and I’m not going to change that now, but we were privileged to touch lives and to feel so connected with our fans.”
HOMETOWN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
The Red Sox claimed first place on Opening Day and held that position for 164 of the 180-day season. “We didn’t like to lose. Our longest losing streak was three games.”
Shane won a Gold Glove for his superb play in right field and he won the hearts of the fans for his hustle and determination. If you wonder just how committed he was consider this: he missed 40 games because of injury and despite appearing in only 122 games he still led the AL in hit-by-pitches (18). That means he “took one for the team,” about every six or seven games on average!
After winning the East Division the Red Sox faced the Tampa Bay Rays in the best-of-five AL Division Series, beginning October 4, at Fenway Park. In that series Victorino contributed six hits in four games as the Red Sox defeated the Rays three-games-to-one.
Shane’s big moment in the AL Championship Series came against the Tigers in Game Six. His grand-slam home run in the seventh inning gave the Red Sox a 5-2 lead, and that lead provided the margin of victory for the team’s ALCS-clinching win. “That grand slam is one of my top Red Sox memories,” he says.
Victorino continued his clutch hitting in Game Six of the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. The game was scoreless when he came to bat in the third inning with the bases loaded. He launched a drive off the Green Monster that culminated with Shane celebrating on third base and the Red Sox up 3-0.
Then for good measure he singled to left in the fourth inning to drive in Big Papi for a 6-0 lead and the Red Sox went on to defeat the Cardinals 6-1. That win marked the first time the Red Sox had won their World Championship in Boston since 1918. Shane celebrated on the field with his teammates but he made sure to share the moment with his family.
“It was a very emotional series, a very emotional season,” he says. “We [Red Sox players and coaches] all took the Marathon tragedy personally. Most of us had families and we all realized it could have been our wives and children. At the end of that game I wanted to keep my family close.”
When asked for his highlight of the 2013 season he replies, “Winning the World Series is always tops because that’s what you play for. But there are so many others it’s hard to narrow them down.
“Bonding with the fans and the whole city was special. And I get chills just thinking about the fans embracing my song and singing along with “Everything is going to be alright,” he says. “And people saying ‘Thank you’ when it seemed we should be thanking them.
“Oh, and the duck boat parade! I’ll never forget that. It was fun, and great to see the joy of the fans,” he says, “but I’m going to tell you, you could feel the love radiating in both directions.
“And I will never forget my teammates. They were a high a quality group,” he says emphatically.
Does he have any final words for Red Sox fans? “From the bottom of my heart I want to say Mahalo—thank you all!”
WELCOME BACK TO BOSTON!
On April 16th 2023, the Boston Red Sox welcomed back to Fenway members of the 2013 World Series Championship team in honor of the 10thremembrance of the Boston Marathon bombings. An impressive showing of 2013 Red Sox was headlined by David Ortiz, Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia and of course Shane Victorino among many other members of the 2013 squad.
Wearing their signature white jerseys with “Boston” printed across the chest as they did in 2013, the band of bearded brothers was back together and the chemistry between this group was immediately evident. Highlighted by “Big Papi” David Ortiz picking up Koji Uehara on his shoulders in vintage fashion, the energy that this group brought to Fenway immediately brought the entire crowd back to that magical 2013 championship run.
Shane Victorino joined Dave O’Brien and Lou Merloni in the NESN booth during the game, sharing memories and stories about the 2013 team. It was clear throughout the whole event that the bonds formed by this ballclub are stronger than ever and the 2013 team will always have a special place in Red Sox and Boston history.