Kevin Youkilis Writes Letter to Red Sox Fans on Eve of Homecoming, Thanking Them for Support

Kevin Youkilis Writes Letter to Red Sox Fans on Eve of Homecoming, Thanking Them for SupportKevin Youkilis is bracing for an  emotional return to Fenway Park.

Three weeks since being traded to the White Sox, the third baseman will make his first appearance as a visiting player at Fenway on Monday, when Boston hosts Chicago for a four-game series.

Before the trade, Youkilis had known only one organization — the Red Sox. An eighth-round selection by Boston in 2001, he rose through the Red Sox' farm system, from Lowell to Portland to Pawtucket.

On the eve of his homecoming, Youkilis penned a letter to Red Sox Nation, thanking fans for memories and support during his nine-year stint with the Red Sox organization. He said it was "an honor and a privilege to play every home game of my career in Boston before a sold-out Fenway Park."

Youkilis spent parts of nine seasons in a Red Sox uniform, batting .287 with 133 home runs and 564 RBIs. He was a three-time All-Star and one-time Gold Glove-winner who finished third in MVP voting in 2008.

"I want to thank the Red Sox ownership for all the hard work and dedication to making the Red Sox and Fenway Park a special place to play," Youkilis wrote. "They have always supported me on the field, and have helped out in many ways off the field. I can't thank them enough for my time in Boston."

Youkilis was immortalized in Michael Lewis' book Moneyball after A's general manager Billy Beane referred to the then-minor leaguer as the Greek God of Walks. This led to former Red Sox manager Terry Francona memorably quipping that "I've seen him in the shower, he isn't the Greek god of anything." Youkilis didn't overlook his old manager in the letter.

"To Terry Francona, who led us to 2 World Series championships in 2004 and 2007, I thank you for your support and personal guidance through my career with the Red Sox," he wrote. "I thank you for being there for me not just as a manager but as a friend off the field."

Youkilis also thanked his family — "Without my dad's hard work building that batting cage, and my mom tirelessly schlepping me around to all my games, I would never have lived my dreams in Boston" — and the sponsors of his charity, Youk's Kids. But he saved his most heartfelt gratitude for the fans.

"And, last but no means least, to all the Red Sox Nation, the home of the most dedicated and knowledgeable fans in baseball, I thank you from the bottom of my heart," Youkilis wrote. "That final game at Fenway was the most emotional day of my life on the baseball field. It could not have been scripted any better. And to all those kids out there in Red Sox Nation, I can give you my dad's advice. 'Life is like a throw to first base — always aim high.' "

Youkilis did not mention current manager Bobby Valentine, who had remarks about Youkilis on Sunday.

Read the full text of Youkilis' letter here.