Kevin Edmund Youkilis (born on March 15, 1979, in Cincinnati, Ohio) is a Major League Baseball player ,currently playsing as first base for the Boston Red Sox, where he has played with since his major league debut in 2004. He bats and throws right-handed. Besides first base, Youkilis began his career as a third baseman and has spent time as second baseman and left field. Youkilis is a Red Sox fan favorite, and fans are known to chant "Yoooooouk" when he comes up to the plate or makes a play in the field at times.
Kevin Youkilis was the son of a jewelry wholesaler. He attended Sycamore High School in Cincinnati, where he was a member of the 1994 AAU National Champion baseball team. He attended the University of Cincinnati, where he set school records for home runs (53), slugging percentage (.627) and On-Base Percentage (.499). He was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 2001 amateur draft, in the 8th round (243rd overall).
Youkilis made his professional debut for the Class Short-A Lowell Spinners of the New York-Penn League, as a catcher. He was later promoted to the Class Low-A Augusta GreenJackets of the South Atlantic League.
In 2002, Youkilis appeared in 15 games for Augusta, before being promoted to the Sarasota Sox and later the, Trenton Thunder. He was awarded the 2002 Red Sox Minor League Player of the Year honors for his .316 average, 8 home runs, and 80 runs batted in.
Youkilis started the 2003 season with the AA Portland Sea Dogs, where he earned a spot on the 2003 Eastern League All-Star team. Later in the season, he was promoted to AAA Pawtucket. Between the two teams, Youkilis reached base in 71 consecutive games, tying the minor league record previously held by Kevin Millar.
Youkilis was also mentioned in the 2003 book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis. In the book Lewis refers to Youkilis as "Euclis: The Greek God of Walks" and reveals that Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane tried to trade for Youkilis multiple times throughout his minor league career.
In 2004, Youkilis started the season with the Pawtucket Red Sox, but was called up on May 15th, when Red Sox starting third baseman Bill Mueller was placed on the disabled list. He started his first major league game at third base, and was 2-4 in the game. In his second major league at-bat, Youkilis hit a home run off 1996 Cy Young Award winner Pat Hentgen, for his first major league hit. When returning to the dugout, Youkilis was greeted with the silent treatment. He proceeded to slap hands with invisible teammates, before his teammates gave in and congratulated him. Later in the year, Youkilis opted not to play in a game that took place on Yom Kippur, the most important Jewish holiday. Youkilis was a member of the ALCS roster, but was cut from the World Series roster for reliever Ramiro Mendoza. He received a World Series ring after the Red Sox won the championship.
Youkilis spent 2005 splitting time between Pawtucket and Boston.
With the departure of Kevin Millar, and the arrival of Mike Lowell to play third base, Youkilis became the starting first baseman for the Red Sox in 2006, a position he has held ever since. Also during that season, Youkilis played 18 games in left field, the first time he had played the outfield in his professional career. That year he ranked in the American League top ten for walks (91), doubles (42), sacrifice flies (11), and pitches per at-bat (4.42). He also had a .375 AVG with runners in scoring position and two outs.
During the 2007 season, Youkilis had a career high 23-game hitting streak, which lasted from May 5 to June 2, during which he hit .426 with 6 HR and 21 RBI. During the streak he had 9-straight games with at least 2 hits (tying the Red Sox record set by Jim Rice) and became the first Red Sox player since Trot Nixon to hit an inside-the-park home run. On May 20, Youkilis hit the shortest home run in Red Sox history, a 321-foot shot that wrapped around Pesky's Pole. The hit would not have been a home run in any of the 29 other Major League ballparks. The streak ended on June 2nd, when Youkilis walked 3 times in an 11-6 win over the New York Yankees.
Youkilis had trouble with the Yankees and being hit by pitches in 2007. On June 1, Youkilis was struck on his helmet by a 94 mph fastball thrown by Yankees pitcher Scott Proctor. Proctor was ejected from the game for the incident. On August 8, Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain was ejected following a pair of pitches thrown over Youkilis' head. Chamberlain was later suspended two games for his actions. On September 15, Youkilis was struck on the right wrist by a pitch thrown by Yankees pitcher Chien-Ming Wang. Youkilis left the game, and did not play until September 25, pinch-hitting for Eric Hinske in the 5th inning.
During the 2007 season, Youkilis did not make a single error at first base. On June 25, Youkilis played in his 120th consecutive game at first base without an error, breaking the prior Red Sox record set in 1921 by Stuffy McInnis. On September 7, he played in his 179th consecutive game at first base without an error, which broke the prior American League record set in 1973 by Mike Hegan. Youkilis' streak at the end of the regular season was 190 games; while he was charged with a fielding error in the sixth inning of an October 16, 2007, playoff game against the Cleveland Indians, postseason games are not included in the record. Therefore, early in the 2008 season, Youkilis could break the Major League record of 193 consecutive error-free games, held by Steve Garvey. He won the 2007 American League Gold Glove Award at first base.