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Johnny Damon

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Johnny David Damon born November 5, 1973) is an American Major League Baseball outfielder who plays for the Detroit Tigers. Previously, he played for the New York Yankees from 2006-2009, but was unable to reach a contract agreement for 2010 and beyond. After a revival of negotions, the Yankees announced on Wednesday, January 27, 2010 that Damon will definitely not be a Yankee in 2009. The Yankees signed Randy Winn and had earlier signed Nick Johnson. Johnny Damon signed a 1-year contract with the Detroit Tigers in February, 2010. He has also played for the Kansas City Royals, Oakland Athletics, and Boston Red Sox.

Early lifeEdit

Damon was born in Fort Riley, Kansas. His mother, Yome, is Thai and his father, Jimmy, is a Caucasian American of Croatian and Irish descent. They met while his father, a staff sergeant in the United States Army, was stationed in Southeast Asia. Johnny, their 2nd child (after James, Jr.), was born at Ft. Riley, an Army base in Kansas. Johnny spent much of his early childhood as an "Army brat," moving to several bases from Okinawa, Japan, to West Germany before his father left the Army and settled the family in the Orlando area while Johnny was still a pre-schooler.[1] Damon was a quiet child, largely on account of a stuttering problem. "My thoughts just raced ahead of my tongue," says Damon of his problem then. "I’d sing songs as therapy, and I got better, but I just kept quiet most of the time." [2] Damon attended Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, Florida when during his senior year in 1992, he was rated the top high school prospect in the country by Baseball America, was named to USA Today's High School All-America team, and was the Florida Gatorade Player of the Year.

Playing careerEdit

Template:Wikify Damon was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the first round of the 1992 amateur draft out of Orlando's Dr. Phillips High School, where he had been teammates with A. J. Pierzynski (now of the Chicago White Sox); he was the 35th pick overall.

A straight-B student in high school, he walked away from a baseball scholarship at the University of Florida to sign with the Royals for $500,000.

Minor leaguesEdit

In 1992 Damon hit .349 with a .568 slugging percentage in his first minor league season, in the Gulf Coast League.

In 1993 he stole 59 bases in the Midwest League.

In 1994 he had 44 stolen bases and a .399 on base percentage in the Carolina League.

In 1995 he was hitting .343 with 16 home runs, nearly twice as many walks as strikeouts, and a .434 on base percentage for Wichita in the Texas League, where he was voted MVP, when the Royals called him up.

RoyalsEdit

He played for the Royals from 1995 to 2000.

In 1995 he was the 8th youngest player in the league (21).

In 1996 he was 6th in the AL in stolen bases (25) and 10th in sacrifice hits (10).

In 1997 he was 3rd in the league in triples (8).

In 1998 he was 2nd in the league in triples (10).

In 1999 he was 2nd in the league in triples (9), 6th in the league in stolen bases (36), and 9th in doubles (39).

In 2000 Damon led the AL in runs (136) and stolen bases (46), was 2nd in hits (214), 3rd in triples (10) and sacrifice flies (12), and 10th in batting (.327).

AthleticsEdit

Damon spent 2001 with the Oakland Athletics. In a three-way trade involving the A's, Royals, and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the A's received Damon along with pitcher Cory Lidle from the Devil Rays and second baseman Mark Ellis from the Royals.

In 2001 he was 3rd in the league in at bats (644) and 7th in runs (108). Damon was involved in a very unusual play during the 2001 season. On August 8, 2001, in a game in Oakland against the Red Sox, Damon hit a liner down the right field lines and the ball rolled into a beer cup. The hit was ruled a ground rule double. Had the ball not been stuck in the cup, that play would have very likely been a triple.

Red SoxEdit

File:Damon joking2.png

He spent 2002-05 with the Boston Red Sox.

In 2002 Damon led the league in triples (11), and was 3rd in infield hits (25). He became the inaugural American League All-Star Final Vote.[3]

On June 27, 2003, Damon joined a very exclusive group of Major League Baseball players by recording 3 base hits in the first inning of a game (against the Florida Marlins).[4]

In 2004, he was 2nd in the league in runs (123). Damon began to re-establish himself among the premier lead-off hitters and center fielders in the game. In arguably his best season in the Major Leagues, Damon batted .304 with 20 home runs and 94 RBIs, and showed improved patience at the plate. According to Damon's autobiography, he was only the 4th leadoff batter in the history of Major League Baseball to ever drive in more than 90 runs in a season.

In 2004, Damon was a key player in helping the Boston Red Sox win their first championship in 86 years. In game seven of the 2004 ALCS he hit two home runs (including a grand slam), to lead the Red Sox to victory over the Yankees. In the World Series he also hit a home run as Boston swept the St. Louis Cardinals.

Through his 4-year career with the Red Sox (2002-05), Johnny Damon appeared in 597 games (590 of them as the center fielder, and 7 as a designated hitter).[5] Of his 2476 at bats in a Boston uniform, 2259 of them were as their leadoff hitter. Damon batted 2nd in the lineup for 156 at bats in 2002, accounting for nearly all of the rest except for occasional pinch hitting appearances. Damon did start two games as the Red Sox' # 3 hitter in 2004. In 2005, his final season with the Red Sox, Damon had 624 at bats, and all but 3 were as the leadoff hitter. He also earned his 2nd All-Star selection in 2005, as the American League's starting center fielder.[6] He led the AL with 35 infield hits.[7]

New York YankeesEdit

On December 20, 2005, Damon signed a 4-year, $52 million dollar contract with the New York Yankees. Damon's signing with the Yankees led to his being subsequently vilified by many Red Sox fans because of his previously professed loyalty to the city and Red Sox organization. One held up a sign saying: "Johnny, you really are an Idiot".[8](In reaction to Damon's light-hearted characterization of the 2004 Red Sox as being a "bunch of idiots"). The Loren & Wally Show of WROR took to calling him "Juan Damón." Damon is the 3rd star Red Sox player in 12 years to "switch sides" and sign a contract with the Yankees, the others being Wade Boggs and Roger Clemens (though Clemens played with the Toronto Blue Jays in between his stints with the Red Sox and Yankees) who were also booed by Red Sox fans after they appeared back in Fenway Park in a Yankees uniform. Damon was even quoted before his departure from the Red Sox as saying, "There's no way I can go play for the Yankees, but I know they're going to come after me hard. It's definitely not the most important thing to go out there for the top dollar, which the Yankees are going to offer me. It's not what I need."[9] In an October 1, 2005 interview with Damon's wife, Michelle, she stated, "I can't see him in a Yankees uniform....This could be his last contract, it could be his retirement, his future, his kids' future. But New York? No. Boston would really have to hurt his feelings."[10] He joined the Yankees only months later. As a result of this seeming indiscretion, a favorite T-shirt was seen in the Boston area which read "Looks like Jesus, throws like Mary, acts like Judas."

As the Yankees have a strict dress code for players forbidding both long hair and facial hair below the upper lip, Damon had his hair and beard cut on December 22.

During the first Yankee-Red Sox game of the 2006 season on May 1, Johnny Damon was cheered for his first plate appearance by some fans, whom he saluted (There were many more who booed him during that at bat, and when he took his position in center field, some fans threw fake money on the field). After that plate appearance, he was booed by Fenway fans everywhere. He went 0-for-4. A minority of fans cheered Damon when he tipped his hat to his old team's dugout and then to the rest of the Fenway crowd.[11] Reflecting on his return to Fenway, Damon remarked "I love Boston and I always will. I'll always have terrific memories and great fans here. Those fans [that booed] are just the kind of people who wish they were in my spot -- they really do. They've got no class, but that only speaks for a few of them. However, a few months later, he was quoted as saying in an interview, "Moving to New York was the best decision I ever made. Now I'm in a place that actually wants me." Damon may have been referring to the fans that booed him, or to the organization itself for not offering him more money, which he also said was of little importance to him months earlier.[12]

In a pivotal 5-game series between the Yankees and Red Sox at Fenway Park, Damon went 3-for-6 in each of the first 3 games, including a doubleheader on Friday August 18, and a game on Saturday August 19. Damon hit 2 home runs, drove in 8 runs, and scored 8 runs in the first 3 games as the Yankees won them by a combined score of 39-20, and dealt a severe blow to the Red Sox' play-off aspirations for that season.

In 2006 Damon finished 3rd in runs (115) and 9th in stolen bases (25) in the AL, while hitting 24 home runs -- his career high -- as the left-handed hitter was able to take advantage of the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium. He was only one of 4 players in the major leagues to hit at least 24 home runs and steal at least 24 bases (along with Soriano (46/41), Rollins (25/36), and Byrnes (26/25).

On Opening Day in 2007, Damon was temporarily sidelined due to calf problems. He did not, however, go on the disabled list for his leg problems. After Yankees designated hitter Jason Giambi was placed on the disabled list, Johnny Damon filled the role of DH for him. Melky Cabrera began filling in for Damon, and replaced Damon as the Yankees starting center fielder. Damon then transferred to left field during the middle part of the season.

On December 13, 2007, ESPN wrongly accused Damon of being in the Mitchell Report. They had reported hours before the report was released that his name was in the document. When it came out, his name was nowhere to be found.

In May, 2008, Damon (along with Brad Ausmus, Andruw Jones, and Derek Lowe), was one of only four active major league ballplayers who had played at least 10 years in the majors without ever going on the disabled list.[1]

On June 7, 2008, Damon went 6 for 6 in the Yankees 12-11 win over the Kansas City Royals, including a walk-off single, which had bounced over the wall. He is the first Yankee to have 6 hits in a 9 inning game since Myril Hoag accomplished the feat in 1934.[13] Damon said in a post-game on-field interview that this was his first walk-off as a Yankee. He was also the first player to have 6 hits in Yankee Stadium since Omar Vizquiel (who was then a Cleveland Indian) did it on August 31, 2004.[14]

PostseasonEdit

Over his career in the postseason, Damon has hit .278 with 5 home runs and 16 RBI with the A's, Red Sox, and Yankees.

AwardsEdit

File:Damononthefield.jpg
  • 1993 - Midwest League All-Star OF
  • 1994 - Carolina League All-Star OF
  • 1994 - KC Royals Minor League Player of the Year
  • 1995 - Baseball America 1st team Minor League All-Star OF
  • 1995 - Texas League Most Valuable Player
  • 1995 - KC Royals Minor League Player of the Year
  • 1995 - AA All-Star OF
  • 1995 - AA Player of the Year
  • 1995 - Texas League All-Star OF
  • 2000 - KC Royals Player of the Year
  • 2002 - All-Star (Inaugural American League All-Star Final Vote winner)
  • 2005 - Baseball America 2nd-Team All-Star OF
  • 2005 - All-Star

HairstyleEdit

Damon gained some notoriety for the prominent beard and long, uncut hairstyle he brought with him to spring training in the 2004 season, contrasting with his previously clean-cut appearance. His long hair and beard actually came from an unlikely cause - his head on collision with Damian Jackson in Game 5 of the 2003 American League Division Series. Damon laid on the field unconscious for approximately five minutes. When he came to, Damon was completely disoriented, believing that he was still playing for his old team, the Oakland Athletics. The headaches came to disrupt his life to such a degree, that he stopped shaving and having his hair cut. So by the beginning of the 2004 season, he had an uncharacteristic big bushy beard and shoulder length hair. His new look, possibly coupled with the runaway success of the recently released Mel Gibson film The Passion of the Christ, inspired fans and sportswriters to draw good-natured comparisons between his appearance and that of Jesus. (Some people also drew comparisons to Jim Morrison, the lead singer of The Doors, and to Charles Manson.)

On May 21, 2004, Johnny shaved his beard in a charity event sponsored by the Gillette razor company. The proceeds from the event went to benefit literacy programs in conjunction with the Boston Public Library. He regrew the beard and it remained for the rest of the season. Upon his move to the New York Yankees in 2006, team dress policy required he shave and cut his hair.

Exercise routineEdit

As a part of his exercise routine, Johnny admits to pursuing cars from one end of his block to the other on foot. "I live on a street (in the Orlando area) where the speed limit is 25 miles an hour and the police enforce it. At night, I'd wait out there and when a car came by I would race the car home, so I think I can go at least 25 miles an hour. I scared some of the people, seeing a caveman racing after cars," said Damon in a Providence newspaper article early in 2004. (Such speeds have been achieved by only a handful of world class sprinters.)

He has also said: "I do naked pull-ups" moments before game time in the team's locker room.[15]

Damon on The Late Show with David Letterman said, "Oh yeah, I got another one for ya. When I was younger I would run as fast as I could up a tree and stay there until people got worried and didn't know I was up there. But, most of the time I would just come down because no one was looking for me."

BookEdit

In 2005, Damon wrote Idiot: Beating "The Curse" and Enjoying the Game of Life with Peter Golenbock, and also appeared on Late Night With Conan O'Brien in April during a series against the Yankees. On June 7, he appeared on the hit Bravo TV series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy with four of his Red Sox teammates (Jason Varitek, Kevin Millar, Doug Mirabelli, Tim Wakefield).

PersonalEdit

Damon married his high school sweetheart, Angela Vannice, when he was 19. They were married from 1992 to 2002. They had twins together, Madelyn and Jackson, born April 22, 1999.[16] Damon married Michelle Mangan on December 30, 2004. On January 4, 2007, Mangan gave birth to Damon's third child and her first, Devon Rose, in Orlando, Florida.[17] Damon & his family reside in Windermere, Florida.

Johnny and Michelle are expecting their 2nd child together due in October 2008. Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag.

New York YankeesEdit

Career statisticsEdit

Johnny Damon (Updated as of May 4, 2008) [19]
Games AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BA
Career 1876 7415 1306 2135 400 88 170 857 338 .288

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit

Template:Wikiquote

Preceded by:
Albert Belle
American League Player of the Month
July, 2000
Succeeded by:
Glenallen Hill

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