Kevin Youkilis

Kevin Edmund Youkilis (/ˈjuːkəlɪs/; born March 15, 1979), also known as "Youk" /ˈjuːk/, is an American former professional baseball first baseman and third baseman, who primarily played for the Boston Red Sox. A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, he was drafted by the Red Sox in 2001, after playing college baseball at the University of Cincinnati. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Red Sox, the Chicago White Sox, and the New York Yankees. He is currently a special assistant to the Chicago Cubs and former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein.

Known for his ability to get on base, while he was still a minor leaguer, Youkilis was nicknamed Euclis: The Greek God of Walks in the best-selling book, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game. A Gold Glove Award-winning first baseman, he once held baseball's record for most consecutive errorless games at first base (later broken by Casey Kotchman).[1][2] He is also a three-time MLB All-Star, two-time World Series Champion, and winner of the 2008 Hank Aaron Award.

An intense performer on the playing field, Youkilis was known for his scrappiness, grittiness, dirt-stained jerseys, home-plate collisions, and his strange batting stance.[3][4] He excelled despite a physique that led many observers to underestimate his athletic ability. He was called "roly-poly" by his high school coach, "pudgy" by his college coach, a "fat kid" by general manager Billy Beane, and a "thicker-bodied guy" by the Red Sox scout who recruited him.[5] As Jackie MacMullan wrote for the Boston Globe: "He does not look like an MVP candidate; more a refrigerator repairman, a butcher, the man selling hammers behind the counter at the True Value hardware store."[6] Youkilis was named to the Sporting News' list of the 50 greatest current players in baseball, ranking No. 36 on the list in 2009, No. 38 in 2010, and No. 35 in 2011.

Kevin Youkilis
Youk 2009
Youkilis with the Boston Red Sox in 2009
First baseman / Third baseman
Born: March 15, 1979 (age 40)
Cincinnati, Ohio
Batted: Right Threw: Right
Professional debut
MLB: May 15, 2004, for the Boston Red Sox
NPB: March 28, 2014, for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles
Last appearance
MLB: June 13, 2013, for the New York Yankees
NPB: April 26, 2014, for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles
MLB statistics
Batting average.281
Home runs150
Runs batted in618
NPB statistics
Batting average.215
Home runs1
Runs batted in11
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Background and early life

Youkilis' Jewish great-great-great-grandfather, a native of 19th-century Romania, moved to Greece at the age of 16 to avoid conscription at the hands of the notoriously anti-Semitic Cossacks.[3][7] He became homesick, however, and returned to Romania after a couple of years, although he changed his surname from "Weiner" to "Youkilis" to avoid army and jail.[7]

Youkilis was born in Cincinnati, the son of Carolyn (née Weekley) and Mike Youkilis, a wholesale jeweler.[8][9][10] His father was born to a Jewish family, while his mother, a native of West Virginia, converted to Judaism after her marriage.[8] Youkilis has described his father as a "well-known third baseman in the Jewish Community Center fast-pitch softball league."[5][11]

Youkilis is Jewish and had a Bar Mitzvah at a Conservative synagogue.[8][12] At the age of 14, he had an uncredited one-line speaking role in the romantic comedy film Milk Money.[13] He attended Sycamore High School[14] in the northeastern suburbs of Cincinnati, where he played third base, shortstop, first base, and the outfield for the school team which won the Amateur Athletic Union National Championship in 1994. While at Sycamore High School, he was the only player to homer off his future Red Sox teammate Aaron Cook.[6][15]

College

When he graduated from high school in 1997, Youkilis weighed about 227 pounds and was 6' 1".[7] He was recruited by two Division I schools: Butler University and his ultimate choice, the University of Cincinnati —an institution that was the alma mater of both his father and Youkilis' longtime idol, Sandy Koufax, and had just finished a 12–46 season.[3] UC coach Brian Cleary spotted Youkilis at a winter camp. "I looked at him and said, Well, we need somebody", said Cleary. "I'd love to tell you I saw something no one else did, but he was just better than what we had."[7]

While majoring in finance, Youkilis excelled as a player for the Cincinnati Bearcats from 1998 to 2001.[14] "I take no credit", said Cleary. "He coaches himself. He knows his swing. Any time we said anything to him, he was already a step ahead. He made the adjustments he had to make. I just think he's a really smart guy who had a great feel for what he had to do."[16] In his junior year in 2000, he was a second-team All-American and first-team All-Conference USA, as he set school records by hitting three home runs in one game and 19 for the season; still, he went undrafted.[5][17][18] "He was kind of a square-shaped body, a guy [who] in a uniform didn't look all that athletic", Cleary said. "He wasn't a tall, prospect-y looking guy. He looked chubby in a uniform. ... It wasn't fat. He was strong. [But] I think the body did scare some people away."[15]

During the period between his junior and senior years, he played in the Cape Cod League, finishing sixth in the league in batting average. In his senior year in 2001 he repeated as second-team All-American.[5] He set UC career records for home runs (56), walks (206), slugging percentage (.627), and on-base percentage (.499) with a batting average of .366.[5][19] "He had a great eye ... he hardly ever struck out looking", said Brad Meador, UC's associate head coach. "When he did, you knew the ump missed the call."[14] Cleary, noting how driven Youkilis was to succeed, told his father: "Your son's going to be a millionaire some day. I don't know if it's in baseball, but he's going to make some money one of these days."[14] Youkilis was later inducted into UC's James Kelly Athletics Hall of Fame.[14]

Yet, when asked what he liked about Youkilis, former Boston scout Matt Haas said: "At first glance, not a lot. He was unorthodox. He had an extreme crouch—his thighs were almost parallel to the ground. And he was heavier than he is now. But the more I watched him, the more I just thought, 'Throw the tools out the window. This guy can play baseball.'"[7]

In 2001, at Haas' urging, the Boston Red Sox drafted Youkilis in the eighth round (243rd overall), to the chagrin of Billy Beane, who had hoped that he would be able to draft him in a later round.[7] ESPN reported that: "questions about his defense and power with wood kept him out of the top part of the draft."[20] He signed for a mere $12,000 signing bonus.[15] "Kevin would have played for a six-pack of beer", his father said.[6]

"Teams didn’t appreciate performance as much then as they do now", observed Red Sox VP of Player Personnel Ben Cherington eight years later. "His college performance was off the charts. If he [were] in the draft this year, he'd be at least a sandwich pick, if not a first rounder. His performance was that good, in college and on the Cape. Now, teams appreciate what that means. There's no way he’d last that long now."[15]

Minor leagues (2001–2004)

In 2001, Youkilis made his professional debut as a third baseman with the Lowell Spinners, a Short-Season A Class franchise in the New York–Penn League. He went on to lead the league with a .512 OBP, 52 runs, and 70 walks (against just 28 strikeouts), while hitting for a .317 batting average (third in the league) in 59 games.[19][21][22] He also reached base safely by hit or walk in 46 consecutive games (the third-longest such streak in the minor leagues).[21] Peter Gammons wrote that August: "Remember this name: Kevin Youkilis, who resembles Steve Balboni."[23] Honored by the Spinners with a "Youkilis bobblehead night", Youkilis said: "It's an honor—you know you've made it when you get a bobblehead of yourself."[24] Promoted from Lowell towards the end of the season, he played five games with the Augusta GreenJackets of the South Atlantic League, a Low-A Class league. He was named Red Sox Minor League Player of the Year.[25]

In 2002, Youkilis appeared in 15 games for Augusta, in 76 games for the Sarasota Sox (40 of them at first base),[26] and in 44 games for the Trenton Thunder.[27] He hit .310, with eight home runs and 80 RBIs for the year, and he was voted Trenton's "Player of the Year."[19] His .436 on-base percentage was the fifth-highest in the minors in 2002, and his 80 walks were seventh-most.[19][28] In recognition of his performance, the Boston Red Sox named Youkilis their 2002 Minor League Player of the Year.[29]

After the 2002 season, Boston's then-assistant general manager, Theo Epstein, sent Youkilis to the Athletes' Performance Institute in Tempe, Arizona, where he engaged in an intensive six-week training regimen. Youkilis then moved his off-season home to Arizona, and attended the Institute in the 2004–08 off seasons as well.[7][15]

In 2003, Youkilis started the season with the Portland Sea Dogs. In 94 games, he led the Eastern League with a .487 on-base percentage (best all-time for the team through 2007), and was third in the league with a .327 batting average (second-best all-time for the team through 2007). 86 walks (against just 40 strikeouts), and a .953 OPS, and tied for third with 16 hit by pitch.[19][30][31] Later, he earned a spot on the Eastern League All-Star team, the Baseball America AA All-Star team, and on the U.S. roster for the 2003 All-Star Futures Game.[22][32] After Portland, Youkilis moved up to play for the Pawtucket Red Sox, the Boston Red Sox Class-AAA franchise. During his time with Pawtucket, Youkilis managed to complete a streak he started while in Portland: he reached base in 71 consecutive games, tying future teammate Kevin Millar's minor-league record for consecutive games reaching base.[19][33] His 104 walks were the third-highest number recorded in the minors in 2003.[34] Asked, however, about the focus in position-playing baseball on five-tool players, Youkilis quipped, "I don't even know if I have a tool."[5]

Writing for ESPN, John Sickels evaluated him as follows in mid-2003:

Youkilis is an on-base machine. He never swings at a bad pitch, and is adept at working counts and out-thinking the pitcher. Unlike some guys who draw lots of walks, Youkilis seldom strikes out. He makes solid contact against both fastballs and breaking pitches. Youkilis' swing is tailored for the line drive, and he may never hit for much home run power. But he hits balls to the gaps effectively, and could develop 10–14 home run power down the road. Youkilis does not have very good speed, though he is a decent baserunner. His defense at third base draws mixed reviews. His arm, range, and hands all rate as adequate/average. He doesn't kill the defense at third base, but he doesn't help it much, either, and is likely to end up at first base down the road.[20]

Youkilis spent the 2003–04 winter in Mexico, playing for Navojoa of the Mexican Pacific League.[35] In 2004, he appeared in 32 games for Pawtucket, hitting .258 with three home runs, and a .347 on-base percentage, before being called up to the Red Sox on May 15.[36]

In his minor league career through 2005, he batted .299 with a .442 OBP while playing 340 games at third base, 59 at first base, and 2 at second base.

Major leagues (2004–2014)

Boston Red Sox

2004

On May 15, 2004, when Red Sox regular starting third baseman Bill Mueller was placed on the disabled list, Youkilis was called up for the first time. "I didn't sleep much", Youkilis said. "I got about four hours of sleep. ... They told me the night before I was playing.... I got in there, and man, I was just amped up and excited."[14] During his first major-league game in Toronto, with his parents watching from the second row behind the dugout, Youkilis (in his second at bat) homered against 1996 Cy Young Award winner Pat Hentgen, becoming just the seventh player in team history to hit a home run in his first game.[14][19][38] As a prank, the team initially gave Youkilis the silent treatment when he returned to the dugout after his homer.[39] "This one will go down probably as the greatest day of my life", he said.[40]

Later, Youkilis was swept up in the team's ritual annual hazing, in which he and other rookies were made to wear skimpy Hooters waitress outfits, orange satin shorts and tight, clingy white tank tops, for the team trip from Canada through US Customs in Florida.[41][42] "I walked into the locker room, and all my clothes were gone", Youkilis said. "There was just a Hooters outfit and shoes."[43] Youkilis was named the American League (AL) Rookie of the Month for May, after leading AL rookies with nine walks and a .446 OBP as he batted .318 with 7 RBIs, and 15 runs in 13 games.[19][44] Noting ways that his life had suddenly changed, he said: "I'm staying in the best hotel I've ever stayed in, and my paycheck has quadrupled."[45] In mid-July he was sent back down to AAA, however, to make room for Ramiro Mendoza, though he was brought up again towards the end of the season.[46][47]

On September 24, which was Yom Kippur, Youkilis appeared in the dugout in uniform, but declined to participate in the game out of deference to the religious holiday.[48] Youkilis was named the club's Rookie of the Year by the Boston chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.[49] For the season, in 44 games, he saw an average of 4.67 pitches per plate appearance, first among major leaguers with at least 90 plate appearances. As Youkilis observed, "Fighting off pitches, fouling off pitches, laying off pitches, making it so the opposing pitcher can't breathe; that's my job."[50] He was on the roster for the Red Sox for the 2004 American League Division Series (ALDS), making his sole appearance in Game 2 against the Anaheim Angels. "It's been an unbelievable ride", Youkilis said. "It's a great first year, a year you probably can't top. Hopefully, it ends like a Cinderella story."[51] He was removed from the roster for the next round, the American League Championship Series (ALCS), and was on the roster but did not play in the World Series.

2005

While virtually nobody else knew it, Youkilis broke his toe during spring training in 2005, and was back playing again in a matter of days. It was "in Vero Beach", Youkilis said. "I was trying to make the team."[52]

On the Red Sox Opening Day roster for the first time in his career in 2005, Youkilis found himself on the way back down to Pawtucket on April 13 as the team needed to activate Curt Schilling, and Youkilis happened to still have minor league options; but told that he would be back, Youkilis decided to keep his Boston apartment and commute to Pawtucket.[53] Up and down all season as the Red Sox made use of his options, he got a call-up—prompted by Bill Mueller having back spasms in batting practice—one August day as he was in Pawtucket's clubhouse before a game. Without changing out of the same white pants that he wore for both Boston and Pawtucket home games, he packed his car, drove the 40 miles to Boston, walked into the Red Sox clubhouse, changed his jersey and cleats, and was ready to play.[54]

He ultimately played 43 more games for Pawtucket in 2005 before being called up permanently. On September 18, he fractured the tip of the ring finger of his right hand fielding a ground ball, and did not play again until October 2, the final day of the regular season.[19] In 2005 with Boston, Youkilis hit .278 with a .400 on-base percentage in 79 at-bats in 44 games during five stints with the team. He saw an average of 4.68 pitches per plate appearance, the most of any Red Sox player with at least 50 at-bats. He made 23 appearances at third base, 9 at first base, and 2 at second, and batted at least once from all nine spots in the batting order.

2006

KevinYouklis
Youkilis batting against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in April 2006

In 2006, his first full season in the majors, Youkilis became a regular first baseman (with 127 games at first). Until that time, he was primarily a third baseman, though he did play nine games at first base with the Red Sox in 2005, and 56 games at first base in his minor league career. Also in 2006 he played in the outfield for the first time in his professional career, 18 games in left field.[55] Despite his inexperience in the outfield, Youkilis did not commit an error while in the outfield; he did, however, commit eight errors while playing the infield.

Youkilis tied for the major league lead in sacrifice flies (11), and led the AL with 4.43 pitches per plate appearance and by hitting line drives 24% of time that he put balls in play.[19][56] Also that year, Youkilis finished second in the AL in pitches seen (3,009) and percent of pitches taken (63.8), 4th in OBP with runners in scoring position with two outs (.524), 7th in bases on balls (91; the six players ahead of him averaged 41 home runs and 14 intentional walks, while Youkilis hit only 13 homers and was not intentionally walked once),[7] tied for 7th in "bases taken" (22; advanced on fly balls, passed balls, wild pitches, balks, etc.), 8th in doubles (42) and batting average with runners in scoring position with two out (.375), 9th in walk percentage (13.8%),[57] and 10th in times on base (259).[19][58] He scored 100 runs, hit for a .325 batting average with runners in scoring position, and hit four first inning leadoff home runs.[59] He did this despite struggling in the second half of the season with plantar fasciitis and a problematic abdominal muscle.[60]

2007

Youkilis had a career-high 23-game hitting streak starting on May 5, 2007, and ending on June 2, 2007, in which he hit .426 (43–101) with 13 doubles, 6 HRs, 21 RBIs, and a .468 OBP.[61] At one point during the hitting streak, he had 9 straight games with at least two hits (tying a Red Sox record set by Jim Rice in 1978), and became the first Red Sox hitter since Trot Nixon to hit an inside-the-park home run.[62] During the hitting streak, on May 20, he hit what would be the shortest homer by a Sox player during the season—a 321-foot homer around the Pesky Pole. The home run would not have cleared the fence at any of the other 29 ballparks in baseball.[63] Although the hit streak ended on June 2, he did walk three times in an 11–6 win over the Yankees.

His manager Terry Francona said, "He's taking more of what the pitchers give him, using the whole field. He's going to work the count about as good as any hitter in baseball. Last year if he got a two-strike breaking ball, he might swing and miss. This year he's fouling it off, or taking it to right field."[7]

On June 1, Yankees pitcher Scott Proctor hit Youkilis in the head with a pitch; Proctor was ejected from the game.[64] On August 30, Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain threw a pair of 98 mph pitches over Youkilis's head; Chamberlain was ejected, and later also suspended two games for "inappropriate actions."[65] "That's the second time", Youkilis observed. "Scott Proctor hit me in the head. Coincidence? I don't know. It doesn't look good."[66]

On June 25, 2007, Youkilis played in his 120th consecutive game at first base without an error, breaking the prior Red Sox record set in 1921 by Stuffy McInnis.[67] On September 7, he played in his 179th consecutive game at first base without an error, which broke the prior AL record set in 1973 by Mike Hegan.[68]

On September 15, Yankees pitcher Chien-Ming Wang struck Youkilis on his right wrist with a pitch, resulting in a deep tendon bruise that kept him out until September 25, when he returned with the aid of a cortisone shot.[69] In 2007, Youkilis was 6th in the AL with 15 hit by pitch (HBP).[70]

Youkilis's error-less streak at the end of the regular season was 190 games; while he was charged with an error in the sixth inning of an October 16, 2007, playoff game against the Cleveland Indians, postseason games are not included in the record. Youkilis said, "I'm not worried about making the error. I'm worried about trying to help the team win and trying to get an out any way we can."[71] Leading the league with a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage, and an AL-record 1,079 error-less chances at first, Youkilis won the 2007 AL Gold Glove award for first basemen.[72]

While he batted .288 for the season, with men on base, he hit .340 with a .435 OBP. He was 6th in the league in pitches per plate appearance (4.27) and in hit by pitch (15).[73]

In the first inning of Game 1 of the ALDS against the Angels he hit his first post-season home run. It was his first homer since returning from being hit by Wang, and Youkilis said his wrist "felt a lot better as the days have progressed. I think the best thing about it is that it's playoff time, and adrenaline helps the most."[74] In the 7-game ALCS against the Indians he hit three more home runs, had 14 hits (tying the LCS record jointly held by Hideki Matsui and Albert Pujols since 2004), and scored 10 runs (bettering Matsui's 2004 ALCS record) while batting .500 (another new ALCS record, bettering Bob Boone's .455 in 1986) with a .576 OBP and a .929 slugging percentage.[75]

Still, in the World Series against Colorado, he did not start the team's away games. Francona faced a dilemma when playing without a DH in the NL park of having to bench either Youkilis, 120-RBI man Mike Lowell, or 117-RBI man David Ortiz, as he had to choose from among them which two would play first base and third base. Bob Ryan of The Boston Globe called it "the most difficult decision any American League manager has had to make in the 34-year history of the DH".[76] Youkilis said, "It doesn't bother me. I want to play, but I totally understand the situation. Look, I'm doing everything I've always wanted to do. I'm playing in a World Series. I'm playing every day. I'm happy. I just want to win.... If I have to take a seat, that's just the way it has to be."[77] Youkilis hit two doubles (both in Game 1) and had three walks in only 12 plate appearances in the 4-game win over Colorado, as he was not in the starting lineup for the away games. Dismissing questions as to whether he was upset about being benched for the last two games of the World Series, Youkilis said, "Move on and go to another team if you’re worried about your playing time, and think you deserve to play over somebody else."[78]

Youkilis was selected the 2007 recipient of the Jackie Jensen Award for spirit and determination by the Boston BBWAA chapter.[19]

2008

Youk
Youkilis (left) in Houston with then-teammate Dustin Pedroia, June 2008

In 2007, Youkilis had earned $424,500, the fourth-lowest salary on the club.[79] In February 2008, he signed a one-year contract for $3 million, avoiding salary arbitration.[80] In March 2008, his role as the designated player representative of the Red Sox became known during the resolution of a player-management dispute regarding non-payment of coaches and staff for the Red Sox trip to Japan.[81]

On April 2, 2008, on an unassisted game-ending play against the Oakland A's, Youkilis broke the Major League record for most consecutive error-less games by a first baseman, previously held by Steve Garvey, at 194 games.[82] In his 205th game without an error on April 27, Youkilis also established a new major league record for first basemen, when he fielded his 1,701st consecutive chance without an error, passing the old mark of 1,700 set by Stuffy McInnis from 1921 to 1922.[83] His streak, which started on July 4, 2006, was snapped at 238 games (2,002 fielding attempts) on June 7, 2008 against the Seattle Mariners.[84]

He was named AL Player of the Week for May 5–11, after batting .375 while leading the AL with five home runs, and tying for the American League lead with 10 RBIs.[85]

In an early June game at Fenway Park, one camera reportedly showed Manny Ramirez taking a swing at Youkilis, and the two had to be separated by teammates in the Red Sox dugout.[86] "I think they were just exchanging some views on things", manager Terry Francona said. "We had a lot of testosterone going tonight."[86] Asked about the incident the following year, Youkilis said: "We have two different approaches to the game. Winning and losing isn’t life and death to Manny."[6]

He was the AL's starter at first base on the 2008 AL All-Star team that played the 79th Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium, voted in by the fans with 2,858,130 votes in his first year on the ballot.[87][88] Youkilis became the sixth Red Sox first baseman to start an All-Star Game at first base, following Jimmie Foxx (1938; 40), Walt Dropo (1950), Mickey Vernon (1956), George Scott (1966), and Mo Vaughn (1996).[89]

In late July, Manny Ramirez was traded away by the Red Sox.[90] Youkilis took over the cleanup spot of the lineup.[90]

In 2008, Youkilis led the AL in at bats per RBI (4.7), was 3rd in slugging percentage (.569) and sacrifice flies (9), 4th in RBIs (115), extra base hits (76), and OPS (.958); 5th in hit by pitch (12); 6th in batting average (.312) and on-base percentage (.390); 7th in doubles (43) and in times advanced from first to third on a single (14); 8th in total bases (306), 10th in at-bats per home run (18.6), and 12th in home runs (29). He was also 2nd in extra base hit percentage (12.2% of all plate appearances) and tied for 7th in times advanced from first to third on a single (14).[91]

Youkilis also batted .356 against relief pitchers, .358 with men on base, and .374 with runners in scoring position.[92] He drew seven intentional walks during the 2008 season, the first season he had garnered any, and also led the AL with a .353 batting average after the sixth inning.[93] Youkilis became just the third modern major leaguer (since 1901) ever to bat over .300 with more than 100 RBIs during a season in which he spent at least 30 games at both first and third base; St. Louis' Albert Pujols (2001) and Cleveland's Al Rosen (1954) are the only other players to accomplish the feat.[19]

Youkilis finished third in the balloting for the 2008 AL MVP Award, receiving two first-place votes (one from Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News), while his teammate Dustin Pedroia won and Justin Morneau came in second.[94][95] Only Youkilis and Morneau were named on all ballots.[96]

In the ALCS Game 5 vs. the Tampa Bay Rays, the Red Sox were down by seven runs in the bottom of the seventh inning. Youkilis scored the winning run for the Red Sox to complete the second-largest comeback in MLB postseason history. Before Game 4 of the 2008 World Series, he was named the winner of the AL Hank Aaron Award for the best offensive performance of the 2008 season.[97]

2009

Youkilis signed a four-year, $41.25 million contract with the Red Sox on January 15, 2009. The deal also included a team option (at $14 million, with a $1.25 million buyout) for 2013.[98] Later that year, he was voted # 36 on the Sporting News list of the 50 greatest active baseball players, voted on by a panel that included members of the Baseball Hall of Fame.[99]

Youkilis batted cleanup for Team USA in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, tying for the lead among all WBC players in home runs (3) and runs (9), and tying for second on the team in RBIs (6) and walks (6), through the first two rounds.[100] He had to leave the team with a left ankle sprain, however, before the WBC semifinals.[101]

Youkilis hit a walk off home run against the Yankees on April 24, 2009. "He has skills, man", said David Ortiz. "I don't know how he do it. He just do it."[102] He was subsequently placed on the disabled list a few days later, but returned to play on May 20. "It's frustrating not being able to play", he said. "Watching baseball is not something I like to do."[103]

Josh Beckett Kevin Youkilis Barack Obama
Youkilis (center), Josh Beckett (left), and Barack Obama before the start of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, July 2009

Youkilis was picked to be a reserve on the AL 2009 All-Star team by Tampa Bay and AL manager Joe Maddon, after coming in second in the fan vote to Mark Teixeira, 3,309,050 to 3,069,906.[104][105]

On August 6, 2009, with the Red Sox suffering numerous injuries, Youkilis played left field for the first time since he played 18 games there in 2006.[106] On August 8, he again played left field, and made a couple of twists and turns on a fly ball hit by Johnny Damon before committing an error.[107]

On August 11, 2009, after 6' 5" pitcher Rick Porcello of the Detroit Tigers hit him in the back with an 89 mph pitch, Youkilis immediately charged Porcello on the mound.[108] Youkilis threw his helmet at the fast back-pedaling Porcello, and Porcello tackled Youkilis, both went down, and both benches cleared.[109][110][111][112] Both players were tossed from the game, and each received a five-game suspension.[113][114]

Hearing that his friend and former minor league teammate Greg Montalbano had died of testicular cancer at the age of 31 late on August 21, Youkilis dedicated his next game to his friend's memory.[115] After inscribing "GM" in marker on his cap, he hit two home runs in the game against the Yankees, while driving in six runs. Both times as he crossed home plate, he looked up and pointed to the sky. "That was for him", Youkilis said. "There are some crazy things that have happened in my life. You ... feel like there's somebody out there somewhere pushing balls out for you, and doing great things."[116]

Youkilis in the field
Youkilis with the Red Sox in 2009

In 2009, Youkilis was 2nd in the AL in OBP (.413) and OPS (.961), 4th in hit by pitch (16), 5th in slugging percentage (.548), and batted .305 overall and .362 with runners in scoring position.[117][118] He also led the AL in pitches per plate appearance (4.42), was 6th in batting average on balls in play (.363), and 10th in walk percentage (13.6%).[119][120] "Statistically, if you consider 2008 and 2009, you could make the case there has been no better player in the league [in that time]", said Red Sox EVP Epstein.[6] Of the players with 1,000 plate appearances in the AL over the 2008–09 seasons, none had a higher OPS than Youkilis (.960).[121]

In the field, while Youkilis split his time primarily between first base and third base and therefore did not qualify for the fielding percentage title at either, his .998 fielding percentage in 78 games at first matched that of the league leader Lyle Overbay, and his .974 fielding percentage in 63 games at third base was better than league-leader Melvin Mora's .971.[122]

Youkilis finished sixth in balloting for the 2009 AL MVP Award, receiving two second-place votes.[123] He was selected as the Red Sox most valuable player (winner of the 2009 Thomas A. Yawkey Memorial Award) in voting by the Boston Chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.[124]

2010

In 2010, Youkilis was again named to Sporting News' list of the 50 greatest current players in baseball, ranking No. 38 on the list. A panel of 21 MLB executives was polled to arrive at the list.[125]

On May 18, 2010, Youkilis hit his 100th career home run off CC Sabathia.

On August 2, Youkilis' season was cut short by a right thumb abductor muscle tear, which he had played through for two weeks.[126] At the time of his injury, he was tied for 3rd in the major leagues in runs scored (77), and led all major leaguers with a .798 slugging percentage against left-handed pitchers. He was 3rd in the AL in on-base percentage (.411), tied for 5th in walks (58), tied for 7th in extra-base hits (50), 8th in slugging percentage (.564), and 9th in total bases (204).[127] He had surgery to repair the tear on August 6.[126][128]

The injury limited him to only 102 games for the season, his fewest since his 2005 sophomore year. Slowed by his injury, he had only 362 at-bats, but batted .307/.411/.564 with 19 home runs and 62 RBIs.[129] For the years 2008–10, his .964 OPS ranked second in the major leagues, behind Albert Pujols (1.074).[130]

2011

During the offseason the Red Sox acquired All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, and with the imminent departure of Adrián Beltré, Youkilis agreed to the make the switch back to third base.

Kevin Youkilis , Will Middlebrooks (7253775924)
Youkilis being congratulated by Will Middlebrooks

In 2011, Youkilis was again named to Sporting News' list of the 50 greatest current players in baseball, ranking No. 35 on the list. A panel of 21 MLB executives was polled to arrive at the list.[131]

Youkilis was named a reserve for the 82nd All-Star Game.[132] At the All-Star break, he was 3rd in the league in doubles (26), 4th in on-base percentage (.399), 6th in RBIs (63), 7th in OPS (.911), and 9th in walks (49).[133] For the season, he led all AL third basemen in fielding percentage, at .967.[134] However, he batted only .258, his lowest MLB season average of his career.[135]

The Red Sox suffered a collapse late in the 2011 season, losing their playoff positioning. A source among the Red Sox claimed that Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, and John Lackey spent games they did not pitch in the clubhouse eating fried chicken and drinking beer; some Red Sox teammates speculated that Youkilis was the source of this information, alienating him from his teammates.[136]

2012

On April 15, 2012, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine publicly questioned Youkilis' motivation and physical ability to succeed. Viewing rookie Will Middlebrooks as the superior third baseman, Valentine began to play Middlebrooks over Youkilis.[136] The Red Sox traded Youkilis to the Chicago White Sox on June 24 for pitcher Zach Stewart and utility man Brent Lillibridge. The Red Sox agreed to pay $5.5 million of Youkilis' salary to help close the deal.[137][138] In the seventh inning of that day's game, Ben Cherington, the Red Sox General Manager, informed Valentine that a transaction was pending. Youkilis hit a triple in his last at bat, and received a long standing ovation while tipping his helmet to the crowd after being taken out for pinch runner Nick Punto.[139][140]

Chicago White Sox (2012)

Kevin Youkilis on June 26, 2012
Youkilis with the Chicago White Sox

The next day, Youkilis started for the White Sox, playing against the Minnesota Twins. He went 1–4 with a single in a loss.[141] He hit his first home run as a member of the White Sox on July 3, against the Texas Rangers off of Roy Oswalt. He also went 3–6 with 4 RBIs in that game. On July 9, 2012 Youkilis was named the American League Player of the Week, after batting .478 with three home runs and ten RBIs in a 5–1 span for the White Sox.[142] White Sox manager Robin Ventura reported that Youkilis was a competitor with a "grinder mentality", who fit in well with his White Sox teammates.[136]

For the season, he batted .235/.336/.409 with 19 home runs and 60 RBIs, and tied for the major league lead in hit by pitch, with 17.[143][144] He became a free agent after the 2012 season.

New York Yankees (2013)

On December 11, Youkilis accepted a one-year contract worth $12 million to play third base for the New York Yankees. Though Youkilis had not been popular with members of the Yankees and their fans, Robinson Canó and Alex Rodriguez publicly supported the signing,[145] and Joba Chamberlain reached out to Youkilis in an attempt to smooth over their past differences.[146] The deal became official on December 14.[147] Youkilis was diagnosed with a back strain when the 2013 season began and was placed on the 15-day disabled list on April 30, 2013. He was activated and returned on May 30, 2013. He was placed back on the disabled list on June 14, 2013 after restraining his back. He then underwent season-ending surgery to repair a herniated disk in his back on June 20, 2013.

Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles (2014)

K youkilis20140425
Youkilis with Rakuten

Youkilis agreed to a one-year, $4 million contract with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball for the 2014 season.[148][149][150][151] He missed part of the season due to plantar fasciitis.[148][152] In 21 games, Youkilis batted .215 with one home run with 11 RBIs.[153]

Life after baseball

On October 30, 2014, Youkilis announced his retirement from baseball.[153] In February 2015, Youkilis was hired by his former GM Theo Epstein as a scout and development consultant for the Chicago Cubs.[154]

In August 2016, Youkilis, along with his brother Scott, purchased the Los Gatos Brewing Company, and re-opened it as the Loma Brewing Company, a brewpub in Los Gatos, California.[155][156] The brewery was subsequently named as the 2017 California Commercial Beer Brewery of the Year.[156]

Youkilis was eligible to be elected into the Hall of Fame in 2019, but received less than 5% of the vote and became ineligible for the 2020 ballot.

Moneyball

Michael Lewis's 2003 best-seller Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game focuses on Oakland Athletics' General Manager Billy Beane's use of Sabermetrics as a tool in the evaluation of potential prospects. In the book, Lewis discusses then-prospect Youkilis in detail, and refers to him as "Euclis, the Greek God of Walks", a moniker that has stuck.[7] Beane put more stock in empirical evidence than in scouts' hunches, and did not care that Youkilis was pudgy (or, as Lewis put it in the book, "a fat third baseman who couldn't run, throw, or field"), but just loved his ability to get on base (helped in no small part by his 20/11 vision).[7][157] The book brought minor leaguer Youkilis his first national recognition.[158][159]

Lewis also revealed that Beane repeatedly tried to trade for Youkilis before Youkilis reached the major leagues, but his attempts were blocked by then-Red Sox GM Theo Epstein.[161]

Asked by a reporter what he thought of the nickname, Youkilis quipped, "It's better than being 'the Greek God of Illegitimate Children.'"[162] But according to his dad, "Kevin disliked that Greek God of Walks stuff." Fans actually rooted for Youkilis to take pitches.[7] "It was frustrating to hear fans say, 'Get a walk!'" Youkilis said. "I'll take a walk—a walk's as good as a hit—but don't you want me to hit a home run or something?"[7]

Religion and community service

Career highlights as a Jewish baseball player

Youkilis runs to first
Youkilis watches a base hit through the left side of the Baltimore Orioles infield

On August 8, 2005, while playing for the Red Sox, Youkilis took the field in the 9th inning along with Adam Stern and Gabe Kapler, setting a record for the most Jewish players on the field at one time in AL history, and the most in Major League Baseball history since four Jewish players took the field for the New York Giants in a game in 1941.[163]

Youkilis was featured in the 2008 Hank Greenberg 75th Anniversary edition of Jewish Major Leaguers Baseball Cards, published in affiliation with Fleer Trading Cards and the American Jewish Historical Society, commemorating the Jewish Major Leaguers from 1871 through 2008.[164] He joined, among other Jewish major leaguers, Ryan Braun, Brad Ausmus, Ian Kinsler, Brian Horwitz, Gabe Kapler, Jason Marquis, Jason Hirsh, John Grabow, Craig Breslow, and Scott Schoeneweis.

He was one of three Jewish players in the 2008 All-Star Game, joining Braun and Kinsler, and one of three Jewish players on the Team USA 2009 World Baseball Classic team, joining Braun and Grabow.[165][166] Kinsler says that "Youkilis always says something to me on the bases. 'Happy Passover,' he'll throw something at me."[167]

Youkilis was named the Jewish MVP for 2008, beating out fellow All-Stars Braun and Kinsler.[168] He was voted the top Jewish baseball player of the decade 2000–09 in online balloting, beating out Shawn Green and Braun.[169] Through the 2017 season, his .382 on base percentage and .478 slugging percentage each placed him 5th on the career all-time lists of Jewish major leaguers (directly behind Al Rosen and Shawn Green), his 254 doubles, 618 career RBIs, and 539 walks placed him 7th (behind Mike Lieberthal for doubles, and behind Al Rosen for RBIs and walks), and his 150 home runs placed him tied for 7th with Lieberthal (directly behind Al Rosen).[170]

In Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story, a 2010 documentary film narrated by Dustin Hoffman, Youkilis noted:

It's something that I probably won’t realize until my career is over, how many people are really rooting for me and cheering for me. And it's not just because I went 3-for-4, or had a great game. It's just the fact that I represent a lot of Jewish people and a lot of the Jewish heritage, and the struggles that a lot of our people have had.[171]

He expressed interest to play for Israel at the 2013 World Baseball Classic, if healthy.[172] Since the 2013 qualifier was during the regular season, he was unable to compete, but he announced that he would play for the team if they made it past the qualifying round.[173]

In an embarrassing formatting oddity, it was noticed in 2007 that multiple baseball websites such as Baseball-Reference.com and Baseball Prospectus had been using "youkike" as part of their urls for webpages featuring Youkilis. This unintended quirk affected those sites that used an automatic url-creating algorithm which combined the first five letters of a player's surname with the first two letters of his first name. Following the discovery, the sites manually adjusted the urls to remove the inadvertent ethnic slur.[174][175]

Philanthropy

Kevin Youkilis Hits For Kids is a charitable organization established by Youkilis in 2007. Youkilis's foundation focuses on raising support and awareness for the health, advocacy, safety, and medical healing of children across Massachusetts, in his hometown of Cincinnati, and beyond. Rallying the support of volunteers, local business, and the heart of Red Sox Nation, Kevin Youkilis Hits for Kids teams with existing, community-based children's charities and medical research efforts that lack sufficient funding and awareness. One organization that Hits for Kids works with is the Joslin Diabetes Center's Pediatric Health Services.[176] He has a special sensitivity about youth suicide, since his college roommate, a close and supportive friend of his since high school, committed suicide on Thanksgiving during his sophomore year. To this day, he said, "I sit back at night and wonder what I could've done."[177]

"In my religion, the Jewish religion, that's one of the biggest things that's taught, is giving a mitzvah, forming a mitzvah", said Youkilis. "I was always taught as a kid giving to charity. You're supposed to give a good amount of charity each and every year. ... It's just a great thing when you can make a kid smile that's going through some hard times in life ... I wish more people, not just athletes, would give people just a little bit of their time. It doesn't take much ... It can make a huge difference."[178]

After the first game of the ALDS, Youkilis re-shaved his head for good luck in a sign of solidarity with cancer patient Mitt Campbell. Following the team's 2007 World Series victory, Youkilis shaved his goatee for a $5,000 donation by Gillette to his foundation.[179]

All profits from his charity wine "SauvignYoouuk Blanc", released in 2008, support Hits for Kids.[180]

Family

In November 2008, Youkilis and Enza Sambataro held a wedding ceremony in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, although the couple never formalized their wedding. The ceremony was attended by Red Sox teammates Mike Lowell, David Ortiz, and Dustin Pedroia. Sambataro, a Newton, Massachusetts native, was CEO of Youkilis's charity, Hits for Kids,[181][182] until the couple split up in 2010.[183]

In February 2012, the Boston Herald reported that Youkilis was engaged to Julie Brady, the sister of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.[184] Two months later, the couple were quietly married in New York City, and a pregnancy was rumored at that time.[185] Twelve months after the Boston Herald article, the wedded Youkilises, along with their infant son, were featured in a 30-minute program on the YES Network.[186] The family lives in Los Gatos, California.[187]

In popular culture

During his tenure with the Red Sox and especially throughout the New England area, the phrase "Yoouuuk!" became a commonplace term; being seen on T-shirts, bumper stickers, and advertising. The phrase represents Youkilis' nickname but also replicates the phonetic spelling of the low, drawn out, guttural cheer that Red Sox fans in attendance would greet Youkilis with as he walked toward the batter's box prior to hitting or after a successful play in the field.

Youkilis made an appearance in season 1 episode 8 of the Travel Channel show Man v. Food. The episode was recorded at Boston's Eagle's Deli and featured Youkilis rooting against host (and New York Yankees fan) Adam Richman in an eating challenge. In 2011, he appeared in the music video for the Dropkick Murphys song "Going Out in Style".[188]

Awards and distinctions

  • 1999 All-American Collegiate Player
  • 2000 Conference USA All-Star (IF)
  • 2001 2nd-team College All-American (3B)
  • 2001 Conference USA All-Star (IF)
  • 2001 Red Sox Minor League Player of the Year
  • 2002 Trenton Player of the Year
  • 2002 Red Sox Minor League Player of the Year
  • 2003 Futures Game All-Star
  • 2003 Eastern League All-Star (Utility)
  • 2003 Baseball America AA All-Star Team
  • 2003 International League Post-Season All-Star
  • 2004 AL Rookie of the Month: May
  • 2004 World Series Champion (Boston Red Sox)
  • 2007 World Series Champion (Boston Red Sox)
  • 2007 AL Gold Glove (1B)
  • 2006–08 Most consecutive errorless games by a first baseman (238 games)
  • 2008 AL All-Star Starter (1B)
  • 2009 AL All-Star Reserve (1B)
  • 2009 Red Sox MVP
  • 2011 AL All-Star Reserve (3B)
  • Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame (inducted 2018)[189]

See also

References & notes

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Further reading

  • Ruttman, Larry (2013). "Kevin Youkilis: Euclis, the Greek God of Walks". American Jews and America's Game: Voices of a Growing Legacy in Baseball. Lincoln, Nebraska and London, England: University of Nebraska Press. pp. 449–456. ISBN 978-0-8032-6475-5. This chapter in Ruttman's oral history, based on a March 5, 2008, interview with Youkilis conducted for the book, discusses Youkilis's American, Jewish, baseball, and life experiences from youth to the present.

External links

2007 American League Championship Series

The 2007 American League Championship Series (ALCS), the second round of the 2007 American League playoffs, began on October 12 and ended on October 21. It was a best-of-seven series, with the East Division champion Boston Red Sox facing the Central Division champion Cleveland Indians. The Red Sox came back from a 3–1 deficit to defeat the Indians 4–3, outscoring them 30–5 over the final three games of the Series.

The Red Sox had swept the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in three games in the AL Division Series, while the Indians had defeated the New York Yankees three games to one. The series marks the fourth postseason meeting of the two teams, following the 1995 and 1998 AL Division Series, both of which were won by the Indians, and the 1999 ALDS, won by the Red Sox (in a similar fashion to this series). It was the eighth ALCS appearance for Boston, and the fourth for Cleveland.

The Red Sox would go on to sweep the Colorado Rockies in the World Series, winning their seventh World Series championship.

The series was broadcast on Fox television.

2007 American League Division Series

The 2007 American League Division Series (ALDS), the opening round of the 2007 American League playoffs, began on Wednesday, October 3 and ended on Monday, October 8. The 2007 AL Division Series consisted of three AL division champions and one wild card team, participating in two best-of-five series. They were:

(1) Boston Red Sox (Eastern Division champions, 96–66) vs. (3) Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (Western Division champions, 94–68): Red Sox win series, 3–0.

(2) Cleveland Indians (Central Division champions, 96–66) vs. (4) New York Yankees (Wild Card qualifier, 94–68): Indians win series, 3–1.Although the Red Sox and Indians ended the regular season with the same record, the Red Sox received home-field advantage by virtue of winning the season series against Cleveland, five games to two. The Red Sox also got to choose whether their series started on October 3 or October 4, the first time a team was given this choice. Although the team seeded first normally faces the wild card team, the Red Sox are in the same division as the wild card Yankees, so played the Angels instead.

The Red Sox and Angels met for the third time in the postseason, following the 1986 AL Championship Series and the 2004 ALDS, with Boston winning all three and extending their postseason victory streak over the Angels to nine consecutive games (the Angels hadn't beaten the Red Sox in the playoffs since Game 4 of the 1986 ALCS). The Indians and Yankees met in the postseason for the third time with the Indians winning, following their triumph in the 1997 ALDS and the Yankees' win in the 1998 ALCS.

The Red Sox and Indians met in the AL Championship Series, with the Red Sox becoming the American League champion and going on to beat the Colorado Rockies in the 2007 World Series.

2007 Boston Red Sox season

The 2007 Boston Red Sox season was the 107th season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. Managed by Terry Francona, the Red Sox finished first in the American League East with a record of 96 wins and 66 losses. In the postseason, the Red Sox first swept the American League West champion Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the ALDS. In the ALCS, the Red Sox defeated the American League Central champion Cleveland Indians in seven games, despite falling behind 3–1 in the series. Advancing to the World Series, the Red Sox swept the National League champion Colorado Rockies, to capture their second championship in four years.

2008 American League Championship Series

The 2008 American League Championship Series (ALCS), the second round of the 2008 American League playoffs, was a best-of-seven series matching the two winners of the American League Division Series. The AL East Division champion Tampa Bay Rays, who had defeated the Chicago White Sox in the ALDS, were paired with the wild-card and defending world champion Boston Red Sox, who had defeated the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, in the ALDS. Tampa Bay held the home field advantage.

The Rays won the series four games to three, becoming the first team since the 1992 Atlanta Braves to win a seventh game after blowing a 3–1 lead. The series began at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida on Friday, October 10, 2008, and was broadcast on TBS. Game 7 was played on Sunday, October 19. This was the Rays' first appearance in the ALCS while the Red Sox were making their fourth appearance in the last six seasons and ninth overall. The two teams hit a combined 26 home runs—a record for league championship series.The Rays would go on to lose to the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series.

2008 Boston Red Sox season

The 2008 Boston Red Sox season was the 108th season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished in second place in the American League East with a record of 95 wins and 67 losses, two games behind the Tampa Bay Rays. The Red Sox qualified for the postseason as the AL wild card, and defeated the American League West champion Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the ALDS. The Red Sox then lost to the Rays in the ALCS in seven games.

In late March, the team started the regular season playing in Tokyo against the Oakland Athletics for MLB Japan Opening Day 2008. In July, seven Red Sox players were selected for the AL All-Star team, with outfielder J. D. Drew being named the game's MVP. In September, the team officially retired uniform number 6 in honor of Johnny Pesky.

2012 Boston Red Sox season

The 2012 Boston Red Sox season was the 112th season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished last in the five-team American League East with a record of 69 wins and 93 losses, 26 games behind the first-place New York Yankees. It was the first time the Red Sox finished last in their division since 1992. Under manager Bobby Valentine, the Red Sox finished with the third-lowest win percentage in the American League.

On the heels of a 2011 season that ended with the team losing 20 of 27 games during September, resulting in their elimination from playoff contention and the departure of manager Terry Francona, the Red Sox struggled throughout their 2012 campaign under new manager Bobby Valentine. At the All-Star break the team was 43–43, and at the end of August they had fallen to 62–71. At 66–81 on September 16, the Red Sox were mathematically eliminated from the playoff race. On September 19, the team lost their 82nd regular season game, thus clinching their first losing season since 1997. On September 30, the Red Sox reached the 90-loss mark, assuring them of their first season with 90 or more losses since 1966. The next day, the team suffered their 91st loss of the season to the arch-rival Yankees, the most defeats since their 100-loss season in 1965. On October 4, a day after their final game of the season, Valentine was fired, with one year and two option years still remaining on his contract.

2013 World Baseball Classic – Qualifier 1

Qualifier 1 of the Qualifying Round of the 2013 World Baseball Classic was held at Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter, Florida, United States from September 19 to 23, 2012.

Qualifier 1 was a modified double-elimination tournament. The winners for the first games matched up in the second game, while the losers faced each other in an elimination game. The winner of the elimination game then played the loser of the non-elimination game in another elimination game. The remaining two teams then played each other to determine the winner of the Qualifier 1.

Team Israel, under the Classic's rules, was entitled to have non-Israeli citizens of Jewish heritage play for the team. The players who qualified to play on the Israeli team included major leaguers catcher Ryan Lavarnway, first baseman Ike Davis, second basemen Ian Kinsler and Josh Satin, third basemen Kevin Youkilis and Danny Valencia, outfielders Ryan Braun (whose father is Israeli), Sam Fuld, Ryan Kalish, and Gabe Kapler, and pitchers Jason Marquis, Scott Feldman, Craig Breslow, and John Grabow, as well as what were then recent major leaguers catcher Brad Ausmus and pitcher Scott Schoeneweis. Kinsler said: "Wow, I would be happy to play for Team Israel.... The truth is that if a proposal comes from Team USA to play for them, I will have a very difficult decision to make. Yuk [Kevin Youkilis], Braun [Ryan Braun], and I could make a fantastic team. I am sure that I'll talk it over with Yuk – we always laugh about things like this." Outfielder Shawn Green, who retired in 2007, was also eligible inasmuch as he is Jewish, and said in early June 2011 that assuming it works out, it "would be an honor" and he "would love to" play for Israel in the Classic.Because they were held in September, however, with the Major League Baseball season still in progress, Qualifiers 1 and 2 could not feature major league players such as the above ones who qualified to play for Team Israel. Kevin Youkilis announced that he would play for the team if they made it past the qualifying round.The highest-level players involved in Qualifiers 1 and 2 were minor-league prospects ranked among the top 20 in their respective organizations. Team Israel, managed by former major league All Star Brad Ausmus, included minor league pitchers Eric Berger (1–0) and Brett Lorin, first baseman Nate Freiman (.417; 4 HR in 12 AB), second baseman Josh Satin (.273), shortstops Jake Lemmerman and Ben Orloff, and outfielders Adam Greenberg, Ben Guez, Joc Pederson (.308), and Robbie Widlansky. Also, retired major leaguer Shawn Green played for Israel (.333).In Qualifier 1, Israel and Spain both won easily in the first round. Israel then beat Spain in the winner's bracket. Spain then eliminated South Africa to earn a rematch with Israel. Spain won the winner-take-all final game, 9–7 in 10 innings, to advance to the main tournament.

Adam Stern

Adam James Stern (born February 12, 1980) is a Canadian former Major League Baseball outfielder. Stern is the second Jewish player from Canada in major league history, following Goody Rosen. He, Kevin Youkilis, and Gabe Kapler set a record for most Jewish players on a team at once since the expansion era.

Augusta GreenJackets

The Augusta GreenJackets are a Minor League Baseball team of the South Atlantic League, and they are the Class A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. They play their home games at SRP Park in North Augusta, South Carolina, which opened in April 2018. They previously played at Lake Olmstead Stadium which had been the home of the GreenJackets from 1995 to 2017. The team is named in honor of The Masters golf tournament held across the river in Augusta, Georgia, where the winner receives a green jacket.

Before the Giants took over the club's affiliation after the 2004 season, the GreenJackets were a part of the Boston Red Sox organization. Prior to that, the Red Sox replaced the Pittsburgh Pirates in Augusta. The GreenJackets boast third baseman Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia as the only prospects to make the Red Sox roster, although knuckle baller Tim Wakefield pitched there in 1989 with the Pirates organization. The Red Sox' relationship with Augusta met with immediate success when the GreenJackets won the South Atlantic League championship in their first year as an affiliate team.

Carlos Carrasco (baseball)

Carlos Luis Carrasco (born March 21, 1987) is a Venezuelan-born American professional baseball pitcher for the Cleveland Indians of Major League Baseball (MLB).

Cincinnati Bearcats baseball

Cincinnati Bearcats baseball is the varsity intercollegiate team representing the University of Cincinnati in the sport of college baseball at the Division I level of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The team is led by Ty Neal, and plays its home games at Marge Schott Stadium on campus in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bearcats are members of the American Athletic Conference. Some notable alumni include Hall of Famers Sandy Koufax and Miller Huggins, All-Star and World Series Champion Kevin Youkilis, and All-Star Josh Harrison.

Gil Velazquez

Gilberto Arnulfo Velazquez (born October 17, 1979) is a former professional baseball infielder. He is 6–2 feet tall and weighs 190 pounds. Velazquez is a graduate of Paramount High School in Paramount, California. Velazquez played in the New York Mets, Minnesota Twins, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Miami Marlins organizations.

Jeff Bailey

Jeffrey Todd Bailey (born November 19, 1978) is a former first baseman, outfielder, and designated hitter. He formerly played catcher until a throwing disorder prompted him to change positions. Bailey grew up in Kelso, Washington and graduated from Kelso High School.

List of Romanian Jews

This is a list of Romanian Jews who are or were Jewish or of Jewish ancestry.

Mayos de Navojoa

The Mayos de Navojoa is a Mexican baseball team in the Liga Mexicana del Pacífico ("Mexican Pacific League").

They have been champions of the league twice. The first time was at the 1978–79 season, with Chuck Goggin (USA) as coach. The next time was in the 1999–2000 season, with Lorenzo Bundy (USA) as manager.

Ryan Shealy

Ryan Nelson Shealy (born August 29, 1979) is an American former professional baseball player who played six seasons in Major League Baseball as a first baseman. Shealy played college baseball for the University of Florida, and thereafter, he played professionally for the Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals and Boston Red Sox.

Shealy was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He attended Cardinal Gibbons High School in Fort Lauderdale, where he played high school baseball for the Cardinal Gibbons Chiefs.

Shealy received an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, and played for coach Andy Lopez and coach Pat McMahon's Florida Gators baseball teams from 1998 to 2002. He graduated from Florida with a bachelor's degree in advertising in 2002.

The Colorado Rockies selected Shealy in the eleventh round of the 2002 Major League Baseball Draft. Shealy began his career playing for the Casper Rockies (now the Grand Junction Rockies), an advanced rookie team that is part of the Pioneer Baseball League. He won the USA Baseball Richard W. "Dick" Case Player of the Year Award in 2005.Shealy made his major league debut on June 14, 2005. In his rookie year, he compiled an impressive .330 batting average (30–for–91) with two home runs, 16 RBI, and no errors in 36 games played. Shealy was the Rockies' primary backup to starting first baseman and five-time All-Star Todd Helton, and was also the designated hitter during interleague games in 2005. Shealy also played in 2005 for the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox.

Shealy played all of 2006 in Triple-A prior to the All-Star Game, batting .284 with 15 home runs and 55 RBI in 58 games. On July 31, 2006, he was traded to the Kansas City Royals for Jeremy Affeldt and Denny Bautista. He made a big impact, hitting .280 with seven home runs and 36 RBI in 51 games, before being stopped by illness.

On December 17, 2009, Shealy signed a minor league contract with the Tampa Bay Rays with an invitation to spring training.

On June 17, 2010, he signed a minor league deal with the Boston Red Sox. He was called up on July 7, due to an injury to Kevin Youkilis. He was outrighted to the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox two weeks later, after going hitless in seven at-bats. On August 14, 2010, the Boston Red Sox released Shealy.

He played in 2011 in the Toronto Blue Jays organization with the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s. In 62 games, he hit .272 with 11 home runs and 56 RBI.

Sarasota Reds

The Sarasota Reds were a professional minor league baseball team, located in Sarasota, Florida, as a member of the Florida State League. However team originally started play in Sarasota as the Sarasota White Sox in 1989. They remained in the city for the next 21 seasons, going through a series of name changes due to their affiliation changes. They were known as the White Sox from 1989–1993, as the Sarasota Red Sox from 1994–2004, and the Reds from 2004–2009. In Sarasota, the team played in Payne Park (1989) and then Ed Smith Stadium (1990–2009). They won two division championships, in 1989 and 1992, and made playoff appearances in 1989, 1991, 1992, 1994, and 2007.

However the roots of the Reds can be traced back, even further, to the Tampa Tarpons. In the 1980s rumors arose that a major league team would come to Tampa, which would threaten the viability of the Tarpons and other minor league teams in the Tampa Bay Area. In 1988 the Chicago White Sox replaced Cincinnati as the Tarpons' affiliate, launching murmurs that the White Sox would themselves relocate to the area. Fearing his team would soon be displaced, in 1989 Tarpons owner Mitchell Mick sold his franchise to the White Sox, who moved it to Sarasota, Florida as the Sarasota White Sox.The team's Sarasota era produced many notable player who would go on to play in majors. Bo Jackson, Mike LaValliere, Dave Stieb, Hall of Famer Frank Thomas and Bob Wickman all played for the Sarasota White Sox. Meanwhile, Stan Belinda, David Eckstein, Nomar Garciaparra, Byung-hyun Kim, Jeff Suppan, Dustin Pedroia, Jonathan Papelbon, and Kevin Youkilis were alumni of the Sarasota Red Sox. The Sarasota Reds also produced many notable major league players such as Jay Bruce, Johnny Cueto, Joey Votto, Chris Heisey, and Drew Stubbs.

After the Reds' spring-training departure from Florida's Grapefruit League to Arizona's Cactus League in 2009, the Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates did an "affiliate-swap". The Pirates took over the Sarasota Reds, while the Reds became the parent club of the Pirates' former Class A-Advanced affiliate, the Lynchburg Hillcats of the Carolina League. The Pittsburgh Pirates have had their spring training facilities based in Bradenton, Florida since in 1969, when the city met with Pirates' general manager Joe Brown and owner John W. Galbreath and both sides agreed to a lease of 40 years, with an option for another 40 years. On November 10, 2009, baseball officials voted to allow the Pirates to purchase and uproot the Sarasota Reds. The Pirates moved the team to Bradenton, where they were renamed the Bradenton Marauders. The Marauders became the first Florida State League team located in Bradenton since the Bradenton Growers folded in 1926.

Will Middlebrooks

William Scott Middlebrooks (born September 9, 1988) is an American former professional baseball third baseman. He made his Major League Baseball (MLB) debut with the Boston Red Sox on May 2, 2012, and played with them through 2014. He also played in MLB for the San Diego Padres, Milwaukee Brewers and Texas Rangers.

A fifth round draft pick in the 2007 MLB draft out of Liberty-Eylau High School in Texarkana, Texas, Middlebrooks signed with the Red Sox for $925,000, bypassing his commitment to Texas A&M University. Middlebrooks was originally a shortstop, but the Red Sox converted him into a third baseman in the minor leagues. He represented the United States in the 2011 All-Star Futures Game. Following Middlebrooks' emergence as the Red Sox's starting third baseman in 2012, the organization traded former All-Star Kevin Youkilis. After struggles in the 2013 and 2014 seasons, the Red Sox traded Middlebrooks to the San Diego Padres before the 2015 season. He signed minor league contracts with the Brewers and Rangers before the 2016 and 2017 seasons, respectively.

Awards
Preceded by
Gerald Laird
AL Rookie of the Month
May 2004
Succeeded by
Bobby Crosby
Preceded by
Jack Cust
AL Player of the Week
May 5–11, 2008
Succeeded by
José Guillén
Preceded by
David Ortiz
AL All -Star First Baseman Starter
2008
Succeeded by
Mark Teixeira

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