SAFA INTERVIEWS KEVIN YOUKILIS
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
1. TOP 3 MAJOR LEAGUE MEMORIES?
There are so many great memories that it’s hard to name just three. #1 would be the first game I played in -- I hit a home run in my second at bat. Just getting to the major leagues is an amazing accomplishment and to then hit a home run in my first game was icing on the cake. #2 Winning both World Series. 2004 was truly amazing because of the magnitude of winning after 86 years. 2007 was amazing because I got to play a vital role in winning it all. #3 My 1st All Star Game in Yankee stadium. Going out to 1st base in the pre-game ceremony with Hall of Famers like McCovey, Killebrew, and Tony Perez made me realize that this was the ultimate personal achievement any ballplayer could ever receive. It was the point in my career that I felt most proud of all my hard work and sacrifice along the way. I finally knew that I had reached the top of the top in my baseball career.
2. FAVORITE BALLPARK?
I would have to say that Anaheim was always my favorite outside of Fenway Park. Playing at home was always special with the home crowd always electric and excited for a baseball game. Anaheim just had that amazing California feel to it with amazing green grass and the special rock backdrop in centerfield.
3. FAVORITE RED SOX TEAMMATE?
Sean Casey. The mayor was probably the most energetic and amazing player I ever had as a teammate. His Cincinnati years made us connect on so many levels.
4. FAVORITE YANKEE TEAMMATE?
Derek Jeter was my favorite guy to watch, even with him having a serious injury all year. I will tell my two sons to inspire to be this guy in life. He is the epitome of what all kids should be as teammates.
5. FAVORITE WHITE SOX TEAMMATE?
Jake Peavy was probably my favorite because of his mental toughness on the mound. He never gave in and would battle his butt off even when he knew and everyone else knew he didn’t have his best stuff. He is a true grinder and someone I related with on grinding it out every time you step on the field.
6. FIERCEST COMPETITOR YOU PLAYED WITH?
Trot Nixon was probably one of the fiercest competitors I played with in all of sports. This guy was the chapel leader along with being an amazing husband and father. When it was time to step in between those lines, there was no one who would play as hard as Trot would day in and day out. He was a true competitor and would play through some serious injuries to help the team the best he could.
7. TOUGHEST PITCHER FOR YOU TO FACE?
Jason Frasor, for some reason, always found a way to get me out. I don’t know why it was but I had a really hard time facing that guy.
8. PITCHER YOU LOVED TO FACE?
I loved to face Roy Halladay because it was a great challenge. I admired the way he pitched and competed on the mound. My numbers were good off of him, I think, because I always loved the challenge. He was the best in baseball for a long period. I would never choose to face him over most guys in a life or death at bat but I loved to grind out at bats against him.
9. DIFFERENCES BETWEEN BASEBALL IN U.S. AND JAPAN?
Japan’s approach to playing ball is very old fashioned. There is a lot more running and a lot more practice time in Japan. They play every game like it is game 7 of the World Series which is great in some ways, but makes for a very long season. A lot of bunting and a lot of pitchers would not give in at any cost. Very different on the way they pitched in the counts. It was a very short but very unique and enjoyable experience in life.
10. HOW’S YOUR HEALTH?
I am currently in good health. My back is doing great and my foot is doing a lot better. That being said, I have damaged my body over the years by playing as hard as I can day in and day out. The surgeries and broken bones were all worth it in the end. I would never have changed anything about the way I played the game. My physical and natural abilities were limited compared to many players but that did not deter me from proving that I could play at the highest level. I would have never made it in professional baseball if I didn’t play as hard as I could every game and every at bat.
11. WHAT’S NEXT?
I am currently just enjoying my time with my beautiful wife (Julie) and kids Jordan (8), Zachary (2), and Jeremy (born 10-15-14). They are my everything in this world and I was not willing to sacrifice my time away from them to continue playing baseball. I will not be coaching at the professional level anytime soon and I don’t know what is next with staying affiliated with baseball.
My brother Scott and I are currently working on a project out here in the South Bay to open a brewpub. More details will follow in the coming year. It should be a fun time and a lot of work. Between that project and my kids’ activities, this broken down ballplayer will have a full plate.
12. WE’VE READ OF THE MANY CHARITIES YOU HAVE SUPPORTED. ARE YOU STILL INVOLVED WITH ANY OF THEM?
My charity Youk’s Kids is still doing a few minor projects that provide money to different kids in need. My wife and I are currently looking to work with foster kids out here in the San Jose area. The charity’s mission and name will most likely change but not the involvement and passion we have for helping out so many kids in need. We have a lot of amazing friends and family out here that will make the charity as successful as it can be in helping out the lives of so many kids going through rough times in their lives. I truly love helping out kids in need and try to keep it under the radar as much as possible. I have lived and I am currently living the dreams I always set out to do in life. Becoming a MLB player and being a good father and husband were always what I wanted to accomplish in life. I am truly blessed to have my dreams fulfilled and now onto establishing new dreams and goals to obtain. Never stop trying to reach new goals and dreams in life.