"I don't know what's sweeter for me," said Victorino, 30, as his father handed him a tissue. He noted the team's World Series win in 2008, and possibly another in 2011. "But seeing this building - " he said, halted by emotion.
"That's all right, Shane," someone shouted.
" - To think that the kids of this community will benefit from this Boys and Girls Club means so much to me."
The ballplayer spoke to the crowd of "VIPs," according to their badges, city officials, and youths, who cheered from white plastic chairs amid a light wind.
He shared the stage with his wife, Melissa, his father, Mike, and his mother, Joycelyn, who put out her hand before he spoke to take the gum in his mouth. Various speakers gave words of thanks, including the master of ceremonies, ESPN sports anchor Chris Berman, honoring Victorino's roots by wearing a Hawaiian shirt; Parks and Recreation Commissioner Michael DiBerardinis, who bought a citation from Mayor Nutter; Major League Baseball vice president Tim Brosnan; Phillies president David Montgomery; and John Gonzalez Jr., the Boys and Girls Club of Philadelphia youth of the year, who recently completed his first year at Rosemont College.
Drafted out of high school in what he calls Little Hawaii, Victorino toiled in the minor leagues until 2005, when the Phillies gave him a shot.
"I remember two years before that," he said, choked up. "I called up my dad and said, 'Dad, I think I'm done playing baseball.' But to think, a year later, I would be in the big leagues, a World Series champion - no way."
But, he added, like the million-dollar pledge he made to Nicetown, "I guess anything's possible, if you set your dreams high and you reach for them. So you kids in attendance, set your dreams high and reach for them. And anything could be possible."
The Maui native is known as the "Flyin' Hawaiian" for his speed. He is also a MVP for his generosity. The nonprofit that Victorino and his wife founded last year to help underserved youth gave nearly $1 million for the club's transformation.
The once-faltering building is more than a century old. Now, everything sparkles.
There are a big gym, a teen center, a game room, a technology center, and a study lounge. A playground will soon be added. The club serves hundreds of children who in this poor neighborhood come every day to learn, to play, to just be kids.
Victorino, father of three, sees it as part of his legacy. "Thirty years from now, my kids can come back and say, 'Look at what my dad did.' "
He then thanked everyone involved, down to the Boy Scouts who planted the yellow flowers out front.
The event ended with the unveiling of his name across the building. His father, Mike, manned the rope.
"Shane Victorino Nicetown Boys & Girls Club" read like a gift card on a present.
The centerfielder and his wife then untied the lei placed across the entrance. The plant, his father told the crowd, is a sign of royalty, for the youths who would enter.
Contact staff writer Kia Gregory at 215-854-2601, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @kiagregory on Twitter.com.