Big moments punctuated Youk's time in Boston
Fan favorite homered in Major League debut, tripled in final at-bat with Red Sox
BOSTON -- Kevin Youkilis and the Red Sox shared many memorable moments over nine seasons, and the veteran will be remembered as one of the most beloved players in team history.
Youkilis' tenure with the Red Sox came to an end on Sunday afternoon, when he was traded to the White Sox for utilityman Brent Lillibridge and pitcher Zach Stewart. After 953 games in a Red Sox uniform and two World Series championships, a look at Youkilis' top five moments with Boston:
Youkilis made a splash in his Major League debut on May 15, 2004. He announced his presence with a home run vs. the Blue Jays in his second at-bat. The 402-foot blast came off Pat Hentgen, a former Cy Young Award winner. Youkilis became the seventh player in Red Sox history to homer in his first Major League game and the first since Sam Horn on July 25, 1987. Youkilis started in place of an ailing Bill Mueller and went 2-for-4 in his debut as his parents watched from the stands. It was the first of 133 home runs he hit with Boston.
Red Sox fans always admired Youkilis for the way he played the game hard all the time. He never left the field with a clean uniform. He always hustled. That was evident on May 29, 2007, when Youkilis motored around the bases for an inside-the-park home run against the Indians, the first of his career. Youkilis launched a 2-1 fastball to the right side of the center-field triangle at Fenway Park. The ball took a nasty bounce and Youkilis was off to the races, prompting second baseman Dustin Pedroia to say: "It was just funny watching him run."
During the American League Championship Series against the Indians later in 2007, Youkilis delivered clutch homers in Games 5 and 7 to send the Red Sox to their second World Series in four years. Facing elimination in Game 5, Youkilis homered in the top of the first inning to spark Boston to a 7-1 victory. With a trip to the World Series on the line in Game 7, he capped an 11-2 win with a two-run bomb in the eighth inning that put an exclamation point on a series the Sox won after rebounding from a 3-1 hole.
Youkilis never shied away from the big stage and was considered a clutch player with the Sox. He endeared himself to the Fenway faithful once again on April 24, 2009, with a walk-off home run in extra innings to down the Yankees, 2-1, in 11 innings. The blast capped a historic night for the Sox, who also tied the game with a homer in the ninth. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time the Red Sox have had a game-tying homer against the Yankees in the ninth and then a walk-off long ball in extra innings. Youkilis' bomb cleared the Green Monster and fell on Lansdowne Street, giving Boston its eighth straight win.
In what amounted to his final game with the Red Sox, Youkilis belted an RBI triple to right field in the seventh inning on Sunday afternoon against the Braves, sliding hard into third as the crowd rose to its feet. Nick Punto came over to pinch-run for his good friend, embracing Youkilis before he walked off to a sold-out crowd's standing ovation and one final curtain call in a farewell to the fans who adored him for nearly nine seasons. There was a special feeling at Fenway Park all game long, as many fans realized it could be their last chance to see Youkilis in a Boston uniform. Many yelled "We love you, Youk" before the game. He received a standing ovation in his first at-bat. But his final act with the Red Sox will be forever remembered. Youkilis removed his helmet and saluted the crowd, tearing up as he hugged his teammates and walked into the depths of Fenway Park one last time as a member of the home team.
Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.