PHILADELPHIA >> Shane Victorino vowed he would be brief. He made no such promises about not getting emotional.
And so, as the former Phillies centerfielder wrapped up his short speech tonight at Citizens Bank Park, part of a touching pregame ceremony to announce his retirement from baseball, he broke down in tears when he uttered his final words.
“This is not goodbye. This is just the next chapter,” Victorino said. “Mahalo, Philadelphia.”
Victorino, 37, spent eight of his 12 major-league seasons with the Phillies. Known as the “Flyin’ Hawaiian,” he won three of his four Gold Glove awards here, was twice named an All-Star and won a World Series in 2008. He hasn’t played a game since 2016 for the Chicago Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate, but in making his retirement official, he wanted to return to the organization where he had his greatest successes.
“It’s weird,” Victorino said before the ceremony. “I don’t feel like I’m retired. I just feel like I’m not playing baseball again. For me, it’s turning the page. Hopefully soon enough I’ll be back in the game of baseball and show my love and passion to the sport that gave me so much.”
Phillies owner John Middleton and chairman David Montgomery presented Victorino with a custom-painted glove detailing his career accomplishments. Two skydivers — actual flying Hawaiians — parachuted onto the field. And 2008 Phillies teammate Ryan Howard caught a ceremonial first pitch from Victorino, whose wife and two children were on the field for the ceremony.
Victorino will remain in town throughout the weekend, as the Phillies honor the 10-year anniversary of the 2008 World Series championship, which ended a 25-year title drought for Philadelphia major professional sports. Dozens of members of that team are here, including Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Jayson Werth and Brad Lidge.
“This doesn’t happen,” Victorino said. “I’ve seen a lot of guys play a long time in their career and not have the opportunity to go back to a place like this as an athlete, as an individual. I understand that. For the rest of my life, I’ll forever be a part of this organization. From here on out, it’s how do we make this city great?”