Damon gets his due

A very nice moment unfolded during the Mother’s Day home game against the Indians on Sunday, one that, in my humble opinion, was long overdue.

Between innings, as the Indians were getting ready to hit, the Red Sox placed one of their memorable moment montages on the scoreboard in center field. With Johnny B. Goode playing on the sound system, the highlights of choice came from Johnny Damon’s monster Game 7 against the Yankees in 2004. Damon had two homers — including a grand slam — and six RBIs in that game helping the Red Sox complete their historic comeback from 0-3.

After the highlight was over, the Jumbotron camera panned to Damon standing in the Indians’ dugout. The fans gave a nice applause and Damon actually stepped out of the dugout and waved to the fans.

It was a great moment — one that was not possible in 2006 when Damon took a better offer from the Yankees and left Boston.

Damon received boos at Fenway during his entire time in New York. When he came back with the Tigers in 2010, he had an injury and didn’t play. Last year, Damon was back in town several times with the Rays — another division rival — and continued to get boos, though not as hash as the ones he received in New York.

But with the Red Sox celebrating the 100th anniversary at Fenway this season, people can’t help but get a little nostalgic. One of the central figures from the most memorable season in team history is Damon, and I think fans are finally feeling that again. There were two players who drastically changed the culture of the clubhouse in the middle of the last decade. They were Damon and Kevin Millar. Players like that loosened everyone up and played a huge role in the success of the team. And while Millar was a nice player for those teams, Damon was one of the most valuable. He always played, no matter what injury he had. He worked great at-bats. He came through with hits when needed. But it just ended so badly for him when the market dried up for him and the one team that offered him a big deal happened to be the Yankees, who trumped Boston’s 4-year, $40 million contract with a 4-year, $52-million deal.

Damon truly appreciated the kind gesture by the Red Sox on Sunday, and the nice reaction from the fans.

“That was very special. It’s the first time since I’ve been back that they’ve given me recognition for what I did with the Red Sox. It’s the first highlights that I’ve seen of me doing something good. It was definitely very special,” Damon said. “Obviously, I would like to thank the Red Sox for putting it up and I’d like to thank the fans who did applaud me, the fans that really appreciate how I go about my business and play baseball.

Damon doesn’t dispute the notion that playing for the Yankees — and maybe even the Rays — prevented such a display of gratitude before Sunday.

“Possibly. I knew there were hard feelings on both sides for a while,” Damon said. It seems like everything is getting back to normal. I really wanted to come back here when I became a free agent. They failed to sign me. Unfortunately, the only other option was New York, but I’m still happy I had that experience, because I think I know better than anybody now how both sides are. I’m just very appreciative that I’ve been able to play for both sides and also to be able to be playing on my seventh team right now.”

Thanks to MLB.com Indians scribe Jordan Bastian for the quotes from Damon.

13 Comments

My two cents: Damon wears #33 because that is Varitek’s old number.

I still remember the 2005 baseball preview SI issue with Jeter and Damon on the cover. Jeter says “They [the Red Sox] have what we want”, and Damon said, “We plan to win it again”. Then, next year, Damon joins the Yankees. Hmmm…
I’ll always tip my cap to Damon for the 04 WS year. Once he went to the Yankees, though, he deserved every boo he got. Yeah, I get the diff. in $$ for the two contracts, but Damon had to know he’d get that reaction. So it was.
Classy move by the Sox to play those Damon highlights. If I’d been in the stands, I’d have cheered him for the time he was with us. Tip of the cap, Johnny– I wish you well.
GO SOX!

good comments by you guys!! I agree with you both!!

It’s about time Red Sox Nation embraces one of its former bests. Damon did not choose to be traded. Remember, his contract wasn’t renewed. He’s an all time great hitter and added new life and fantasy to a team badly in need of a cheer leader. Way to go, Johnny.

Damon was a great player for the Red Sox. But, when he became a free agent he said the yanks would want him and he would not go there, “no matter how much money they offered”. As this report says, he got a good offer from the RS but went for the yankee money … in a bald face lie.

Damon was a great player for the Red Sox. But, when he became a free agent he said the yanks would want him and he would not go there, “no matter how much money they offered”. As this report says, he got a good offer from the RS but went for the yankee money … in a bald face lie. More Damon greed showed up when his yankee deal was up. They gave him a good offer; he held out for more; and he got less from someone other than the yanks … getting less with every new team … as deserved.

Johnny Damon for the first time in years I am happy for the guy.

Johnny, you still throw like a girl….

Ian: Its dbenjamin@justice here. I know its been a long time since you’ve heard from me. My question is: Has there been any discussion at all about having Will Middlebrooks trying his hand at playing left field?

As a fan who despaired through the 70′s,80′s,90′s,– I will ALWAYS remember Johnny Damons MONSTAH collision in Oakland and him in coming back in ’04 to help the Sox go on to their first WS in recent times! Thanks Johnny- I was upset when you signed with the Evil Empire but still must give a fabulous baseball player his due! He has given his body,heart, and soul to a sport we all love.

Damon leaving the Red Sox — to the Yankees — just underscored the mercenary nature of this business. It’s a little cold of Damon to have left for $52M vs. $40M. Seriously–with $40M one isn’t living well enough? If there is even a vague *hint* of loyalty in a person’s character (measured against pride), that’s a fine number. Do we as fans have a right to expect loyalty from players, though? In our society, our employers are disloyal to us while selectively hiring employees who work for long periods for the same companies–who are loyal–but when it comes comes time to pay pensions, well, oh sorry, the pension plan was raided to help pay the executives; the pension plan was raided to pay off leveraged buyout debt. Players have the leverage to bargain from power. So they do. That’s the kind of society we are. It’s how we were, pretty much, before free agency, too. Pretty cold. So now players can bargain back, and they are cold in their judgments. It was a sad thing to me to see Johnny Damon go to the Yankees. It’s a happy thing that the team, and fans, have publicly recognized his pivotal role in the team’s 2004 success. But I’m sure I never would have booed him. We’re just too empty, too cold, too functionary–too “lean and mean”–to be loyal in our purchases (“buy American”), or anything else. As fans, I think we owe it to ourselves and to the players to be honest and not hold them to a higher standard. We’re fans–we’re loyal–but they are employees. And like it or not, they are not living in fantasyland. If you want a better society, with loyalty in it, do it in your own life. Live it. Booing a ballplayer won’t do the trick. I now return to that bracketed-off frame of mind that is being a fan of an organized ball team, in which the other concerns of life do not matter: a fan of that entertainment product that is baseball. Red Sox forever, right out of the black rocks underneath New England, in the cobalt-clear and cold of an October night. Stains of pine tar on my hands. TV on in an attic. No escape anywhere from the sound of another kid talking about “Carl Yastrzemski.”

I will always have a soft spot for Damon.he helped us a lot how can we forget that iWAS SORRY TO SEE HIM GO THAT OTHER team but its time to let it go i think he is sorry he went there how can anyone forget him laying on the ground in LA hurt when we won the a,l,d, we didnt know if he would play in the series we were worried over him .but when it started there was johnnie there for us lets be there for him. I can never forgive him for leaving us either

Please either reject or post my comment.

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