Kevin Youkilis Talks 2009 Brawl, Hooters Outfit In Locker, And More At Dreamland
David Creed •
Former Boston Red Sox star Kevin Youkilis was on island Tuesday evening for a Q&A with Nantucket Current Editor-in-Chief Jason Graziadei at the Nantucket Dreamland, and opened up about a wide variety of things from the infamous 2009 brawl against the Tigers after he charged the mound to his broadcasting career.
Some of the night’s best moments and answers are below.
On The 2009 Brawl Between Him And Rick Porcello:
“So here is what happened. Miguel Cabrera gets hit the night before by Brad Penny. So he gets hit, I guess the Detroit Tigers had a team meeting about their guys getting hit and no retaliation. Little did I know I was going to be the retaliation. So Miguel gets hit and I think I was playing third at that time. So Edwin Jackson hits me with a 97 mile per hour pitch in the ribs on purpose, first pitch. So I was mad, but also mad because wow Miguel Cabrera gets hit and they hit another guy, but I think I am leading the league in hit by pitches again and we don’t hit another guy when I get hit.”
“So I was pissed and I came into the dugout afterwards, I started yelling, and as I am walking to the bat rack and said that is the last time I am ever getting hit. Someone better hit somebody. If you hit somebody and then I get hit, you better hit somebody back. I yelled that out in anger because I was still feeling that pitch in my ribs but I took it for our time.”
“So the next day I go out for batting practice and Tito and Jim Leyland are really tight. So Jimmy comes up and I say look I took one last night, I’m not taking one again and Jimmy goes ‘oh yeah I gotchu you’re good.’ So I’m like okay sweet I’m good. Jim Leyland said I’m good.
So first inning Junichi Tazawa is pitching, hits Miguel Cabrera in the hand, and he is out of the game. So, I am playing third and we go in to hit. I am hitting fourth while Victor Martinez is hitting third. They get the first two out and then Porcello throws at Victor. Victor takes two steps, looks at him, and then the next pitch he pops it up, throws his bat down mad, but it was the end of the inning, we go out for the second, get out of that inning, and I am up.”
“So I am just sitting there thinking ‘they threw at Victor, so there is no way they will throw at me right? Jim Leyland said I’m good. So I get up, first pitch hits me, 94 mph, and I said that’s it, I’m done, and I ran out there trying to do a form tackle. My buddy on the New Orleans Saints Troy Evans at the time reaches out and says ‘hey, you wrapped good, had good drive, and I’m just sitting there like I really don’t need this guy’s commentary. I just got suspended five games, and so we had a good laugh about that.”
“There is one part I left out. I can’t say the name, but a pitcher before the game said to me ‘well, the reason they keep throwing at you is because you aren’t doing anything. You need to charge the mound. So that was why I charged the mound. So as I am walking off the field that pitcher is walking up the steps, was upstairs getting a massage, and to this day he feels horrible, and his timing was so bad and he got the massage at the worst time. I saw Rick again and he was like ‘ I swear I didn’t do that on purpose and I go “I swear I don’t care, that hurt so bad.’ I just totally lost my mind.”
On Having To Wear A Hooters Costume Through Customs In Toronto:
“It was myself and Lenny DiNardo. We were the rookies. We had to do this, do that, and the Hooters situation was my first weekend in the big leagues. So what happened was I hit a home run, faced Roy Halladay, I’m on top of the earth thinking this is great, this is awesome. After the game I go to my locker and there are no clothes other than a tank top and orange shorts. I was just like wow. We had to go through customs in that and I have to say I was so proud to wear that. That was one of the proudest moments of my life. My Mom still has the Hooters outfit framed.
On The 2004 Season:“My feet never hit the ground. It was such a wild ride. It was living a dream. I’ll never forget against Anaheim in the ALDS, they made some kind of change where I had to go into third base in Anaheim and I’ll never forget that and I’m like ‘do not make an error. Do not mess up this opportunity. There is a whole world watching you right now.’ But I got to play a little bit in that series, a little small sample size, was taken off roster in the ALCS against the Yankees but that series was just wild. I had to pinch myself a lot of times. I got put back on the roster for the World Series and I am just like holy cow. Then of course four games later, we break the curse, complete pandemonium. It was the wildest year of my life. I have never had so many mixed emotions. I made $875 per month in first year of pro-ball, and $300 of it went to the dorms we lived in. I had no money, but I was living out my childhood dream.”
On The 2007 Team:“Dave O’Brien and I have talked about it a lot but that is probably the team that gets overlooked the most. 2004 broke the curse, 2013 was Boston Strong, and the 2018 was most recent. Then 2007 kind of gets thrown aside. That was a very special team and was unique. The 2004 team had tons of veteran while 2007 had a mix. To play was the best and to play each series was the time of my life. I was so hot in the ALCS, I think 14 for 28. Then we get to the World Series and they say ‘hey you have to sit, David has to play (in Colorado) and I’m like I don’t care, we are two games away from a World Series, who cares. Terry Francona kind of felt bad. He was like I don’t want to take you out, but its David Ortiz. The competitor in me wanted to play of course but I was fine with it. That was when I learned Boston media could be like vultures sometimes. They were in my locker and number one question was are you upset you aren’t playing. You could see them swarming around me just ‘say the wrong thing, say the wrong thing.’ I mean yeah I wanted to play, but it is David Ortiz. I’m pretty sure I’m taking the bench here.”
“That 2008 team was the best team we ever had. I am still mad about that. We went to Japan to start that year and that trip absolutely buried us for that year because our pitching staff got a little tired.”
On How He Developed His Stance:
“I had a plain, simple stance and in college it got really wide. I loved Jeff Bagwell and had such a wide stance. Then I looked at Chuck Knoblauch, and he held his bat straight back. How my stance came about I don’t have a full understanding of it. What I do know in life is you always have to try to get better and my wide stance wasn’t working as well in the major leagues because in college you don’t see a sinker, and so the ball from a right hander moves into you and so with a wide stance I would try to inside-out the ball and hit it to right-center field. I didn’t, and learned the hard way. I just couldn’t hit that pitch. So I figured out I had to move my feet closer together and create space where I can bring my bat to the ball easier inside. Over time it went from wide to very narrow. I watched Manny every day. That is the worst thing you can do and the best thing you can do. Watching Manny, it was always like how does he do that? How does he take a ball on the inside part of the plate and hit it out to right-center field in Fenway Park. And so through that, I learned I had to pull my hands inside and be like Manny, but every time I tried to be like Manny, the way he would set up, I would over rotate my body, and it just turned into that stance after working through it and feeling what was comfortable.”
On His Decision To Join NESN As A Color Commentator:
“I never thought I was going to be a broadcaster or a color analyst, it just kind of fell into my lap for a lot of reasons, and some unfortunate reasons with Jerry (Remy) passing away. Tom Caron reached out to me and he kind of gave me a little bit of a nudge. Then my wife was even more insistent saying I would be good at this. She is also just tired of hearing me talk all the time about baseball, so she kind of pushed me out the door too. The biggest influence was my Dad. My Dad passed away two years ago on July 11. What I learned from my Dad was life is short. Go try things, go things that make you uncomfortable. It makes you vulnerable and puts you in positions to learn and grow.”
“The color commentating role, I am still learning a lot about it and trying to not screw up. I haven’t cursed yet but I have been close a couple of times. The only time I came close, this is funny, I almost threw the headset down because I was so mad at one play. Then I was like ‘oh wait I am on air I can’t do that.’ It is for you guys, the fans, and I hope you like it. If you don’t like it, thankfully there is a mute button.”
On The Length Of Baseball Games:
“I think Major League Baseball has a hard time of understanding you need to keep Baseball fans. You aren’t getting the millennial base that has lost their attention span. They are trying so hard to get to people being back to baseball fans rather than focusing on Baseball fans. Baseball fan’s don’t care, and I could be wrong about this, but the beauty of baseball is you have 27 outs. The pitcher can’t get that last out, he isn’t fighting a clock, you aren’t down 14 points with 30 seconds to go with fans turning off the TV. In Baseball you still have to pitch because you could give up five runs in one inning and lose.”
“The one thing nobody ever mentions is, and Baseball wouldn’t ever mention it, but the two minutes to two minutes and thirty seconds in between each half inning, think of the time. Say you cut that in half and cut it to one minute, you have players running on and off the field, have a DH now so pitchers aren’t running, the key to me is figure out how to get advertisement on split screen for one minute with an ad on one side and fans or players warming up on the other. Now you are cutting the game down by 20 or so minutes by cutting down on commercial time, but no one is ever going to talk about that but I guess I can’t complain because they are paying me with that money.”
Favorite Red Sox Player To Watch And Favorite Player On Another Team:
“Big fan of Nolan Arenado. He is one of the best third baseman I have ever seen play. He is a great hitter, works hard. On the Red Sox, I love watching Raffy Devers. Watching him hit is fun. He does things that most guys cannot do so when you watch him, try to emulate him but understand it is hard to do what he does like hitting ground balls that bounce off the dirt for home runs.”
On Opening A Brewery:
“There is a place called Marty's in Newton that has a really good craft beer selection and that is when I started talking to some of the guys in there about all these different beers. I found my niche, what I like, and from there I just fell in love with the whole craft beer scene. I told myself I was going to open a brewery someday”
“After I was done playing I was 35 years old and just saying what is next? A lot of my friends at that age are still going up in their careers while mine is over. My dreams and everything had been attained. So I got together with my brother who is in the restaurant industry and we just decided to open a Brew Hub up in the town I live in. The hard thing was finding a name. I didn’t want to name it Youk’s Brewing Company because I feel like athletes when they do something, it is hot but then gets cold. When you retire, you aren’t as hot. People think you are really cool when you are playing but when you are done, people think you are a little less.”