Kevin Youkilis – Part 1: Early Life, College, and early Pro Career

Kevin Youkilis was born March 15, 1979, in Cincinnati Ohio. “Kevin was the most enthusiastic player that I can ever remember in three decades of coachng,” Ted Schumacher said. “Yet, he was never the heralded ‘star.’ . . . Kevin was a steady performer but far from sensational. Yet his work ethic and passion were second to none. He simply would never quit.” (Cincinnati Enquirer, Ted Schumacher, October 26, 2007.)

Box Set.com– Thu, May 29 10 second clip of Red Sox 1st baseman Kevin Youkilis at age 11 in the 1994 movie Milk Money with Ed Harris and Melanie Griffith. Youkilis is the older kid taking money from the younger kids. . .

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After he graduated from Sycamore High School in 1997, two Division 1 schools recruited him: Butler University and his ultimate choice, the University of Cincinnati. Youk chose Cincinnati over Butler University, because both his father and his long-time idol, Sandy Kofax, had attended UC.

The UC Bearcats had just had a terrible season of 12-46. At a winter camp the Bearcats Manager (Brian Cleary) spotted Youkilis and would later recount his impressions of the young player this way: “I looked at him and said, ‘Well, we need somebody.’ I’d love to tell you I saw something no one else did, but he was just better than what we had.” Indeed he was.  Youk excelled  all four years he played at UC and would become one of the few All-Americans to play as a Bearcat.  “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.”

Even with Kevin’s collegiate success and unmistakable work ethic, some people never thought he would make it to the bigs.  As Youkilis would recount,  “People told me throughout my college years that, ‘I don’t know. He’s kind of pudgy. He can’t really move around well. I don’t know if he can be a professional athlete.'”  However, Youk’s high school friend and college roommate always believed in him:  “He told me . . . . ‘The day you make it to the major leagues is the day I’ll be there.'”

In June, 2001, Youkilis made his MiLB debut. In that season, Youk walked so much that he tied the Minor League record for reaching base in consecutive games–an amazing string of 71. He got on base so much while he was in the Minor Leagues that his team nicknamed him ‘The Greek Of God of Walks.” Kevin reaches base half of the times he’s up to bat. When Youk was with the Sea Dogs, he walked 86 times in 94 games. Youkilis has such good vision he can  see the last row of the eye-test chart, in fact he  has 10/20 vision.

A coach at the time summarized Youk’s prospects as follows:  “I think he has a chance to play in the big leagues. The test now is to see him at another level.”  “If he’s able to make the adjustment (to Triple-A), I think he has a good chance. He’s been on the right path. If he keeps progressing up the ladder and is able to handle the pitching at each level you’ll see him (in Boston).”

On  May 15, 2004, Kevin Youkilis made his MLB Debut. In his second at-bat, Kevin hit a homer. The Cincinnati Enquirer ran a headline stating: “Youkilis enjoys ‘Pipp’ of a debut,” referring to Wally Pipp, the third baseman that Lou Gehrig replaced. “Any time you to come up in the big leagues, it’s your chance,” Youkilis said. “Hopefully, I’ll take as much as I can from it.” Fans who follow the Sox and non-fans who have often heard the crowd erupt in the now familiar “YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUK!” know that Kevin meant what he said.

Kevin’s promising debut, however, was bittersweet.  His old college friend who had been so supportive years before was not there to celebrate Youk’s transition into the majors.  Tragically, that friend had committed suicide during their sophomore year.  To this day, Kevin has been actively committed to suicide prevention efforts.

Another thing that Youkilis takes with him from his childhood is his taste in music.  He likes Tupac Shakur, Notorious B.I.G., Soundgarden, Nirvana, and Pearl Jam. “It’s the rap from when I was in high school,” Youkilis explains. “I have a wide variety of music but I still go back to that grunge era – Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam.” When he walks up to the plate at Fenway, you hear, Rick Ross’s “Push It to the Limit” blaring in the loud speakers.

Let’s all hope that Youkilis can succeed again in 2010 at pushing his baseball skills to the limit.

Here is a video called Get To Know Kevin Youkilis

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

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