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Johnny Damon

Johnny Damon during his tenure with the Yankees.
Detroit Tigers — No. 18
Left fielder
Born: November 5, 1973 (1973-11-05) (age 36)
Fort Riley, Kansas
Bats: Left Throws: Left 
MLB debut
August 12, 1995 for the Kansas City Royals
Career statistics
(through 2009 season)
Batting average     .288
Hits     2425
Home runs     207
Runs batted in     996
Runs scored     1483
Stolen bases     374
Career highlights and awards

Johnny David Damon (born November 5, 1973) is a Major League Baseball outfielder for the Detroit Tigers. Between the 2000 and 2008 seasons he was 3rd among active major leaguers in runs (589), and 7th in hits (912) and stolen bases (153). He was also the active leader in triples (95).[1]


Early years

Damon was born in Fort Riley, an army base in Kansas.[2] His mother, Yome, is from Thailand and his father, Jimmy, is American of Croatian and Irish descent. They met while his father, a Staff Sergeant in the United States Army, was stationed in Thailand. 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.[3]

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."[4] 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. Damon also played football in high school, once getting hit by Warren Sapp and sustaining the first concussion in his life.[citation needed]

Playing career


Kansas City Royals

Damon was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the first round (35th overall) of the 1992 amateur draft. He made his Major League debut on August 12, 1995. He played for the Royals from 1995 to 2000. His best season came in 2000 when he led the American League in runs with 136 and Stolen bases with 46.

Oakland Athletics

Damon spent 2001 with the Oakland Athletics. In a three-way trade involving the A's, Royals, and 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.[citation needed]

Boston Red Sox

Johnny Damon, second from left, jokes with players before Spring Training game, 2005.

Damon signed a four-year, $32 million contract with the Boston Red Sox on December 21, 2001.[5]

In 2002 Damon led the league in triples (11), and was 3rd in infield hits (25). He became the first player selected by the fans in the inaugural American League All-Star Final Vote.[6]

On June 27, 2003, Damon became only the second major leaguer since 1900 to record three base hits in an inning, when he did so against the Florida Marlins.[7]

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 drive in more than 90 runs in a season. He was also a key player in helping the Boston Red Sox erase their eighty-six year Curse of the Bambino. In game seven of the 2004 ALCS he hit two home runs, one a game-cinching 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. His lead off home run in Game 4 extinguished the curse, as that run won the World Series; the Red Sox beat the Cardinals 3–0.

Through his 4-year career with the Red Sox (2002–2005), Damon appeared in 597 games (590 in center field and seven as a designated hitter)[8] and hit 56 home runs.[9] Of his 2476 at bats, 2259 were as 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 hit. He started two games as the #3 hitter in 2004. In 2005, he had 624 at bats, and all but three leading off. He also earned his 2nd All-Star selection, starting as the American League's center fielder.[10] He led the AL with 35 infield hits,[11] and matched the 35 doubles he'd hit in 2004.[9]

New York Yankees

Damon (center) with the Yankees

On December 20, 2005, Damon signed a four-year, $52 million contract with the New York Yankees.[5] The Red Sox stood firm on a three-year contract and chose not to negotiate against a five-year deal proposed by agent Scott Boras. With the Yankees limited time offer and Boston general manager Theo Epstein's sudden resignation, Boras urgently attempted to contact team president Larry Luchino after failing to hear from the new co-general managers, but the Red Sox stood firm on their three-year offer.

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.[12]

As the Yankees have a strict dress code for players forbidding both long hair and facial hair beyond neat mustaches, Damon had his shoulder-length "cave man" hair cut and beard shaved on December 22.[13][14]

During the first Yankee-Red Sox game of the 2006 season on May 1, Damon was cheered for his first plate appearance by some fans, whom he saluted. 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."[citation needed]

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 three games, including a doubleheader on Friday August 18, and a game on Saturday August 19. Damon hit two home runs, drove in eight runs, and scored eight runs in the first three games as the Yankees won by a combined score of 39–20 and dealt a severe blow to the Red Sox 2006 play-off aspirations.

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. He also tied his mark of 35 doubles from the previous two seasons.[9] He was only one of 4 players in the major leagues to hit at least 24 home runs and steal at least 24 bases.

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.

On June 7, 2008, Damon went 6 for 6 in the Yankees 12–11 win over the Kansas City Royals, including a walk-off ground-rule double, which had bounced over the wall. He is the first Yankee to have six hits in a 9 inning game since Myril Hoag accomplished the feat in 1934.[15] Damon said in a post-game on-field interview that this was his first walk-off as a Yankee.

Damon with the Yankees in left field during a game in May, 2009.

On July 6, 2008 the Yankees placed Damon on the 15-day disabled list for the first time in his Major League career with a bruised AC joint in his left shoulder. The injury occurred a day earlier when Damon collided with the outfield wall in an attempt to catch a triple. At that time, Damon was one of only three active major league ballplayers who had played at least 10 years in the majors without going on the disabled list. He returned to active duty, and hit 27 doubles for the season.[9] Damon has hit 53 home runs in his three complete seasons with the Yankees.[9]

On July 27, 2009, Damon hit his 200th career home run against the Tampa Bay Rays Brian Shouse.

Damon, a free agent after the 2009 season, expressed his desire to return to the Yankees.[16] He insisted that the Yankees not even make him an offer, however, unless they pay him at least the $13 million he earned for the past four years.[16] As a result of his contract demands, the Yankees signed 1B/DH Nick Johnson to a 1 yr/5.5MM deal, despite Damon lowering his salary demands at the last minute, possibly ending his time with the Yankees.[17] The Yankees then signed OF Randy Winn to a 1 yr/2MM deal which officially closed the door on Damons return to the Bronx [18].

Detroit Tigers

On February 22, 2010, Damon agreed to a one year, $8 million deal with the Detroit Tigers. In an interview with the Detroit media, it was Damon who confessed to wanting to be a Tiger when he became a free agent before signing with the Yankees. He told GM Dave Dombrowski he wanted to be a Tiger then. Dombrowski responded by saying: "Why didn't you call me?"[19]


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

In game 4 of the 2009 World Series Damon contributed a memorable play that sparked a three-run rally with two outs in the ninth inning and the eventual Yankee win. Facing closer Brad Lidge and a 1–2 count, Damon fouled off pitch after pitch and worked the count full, until singling. Damon then stole second on Lidge's first pitch to Mark Teixeira, and upon realizing that third base was not covered because of the unusual shift the Phillies had employed on Teixeira, promptly stole third on the same play. A rattled Lidge then hit Teixeira with a pitch before surrendering the go-ahead game winning RBI to Alex Rodriguez.


Damon batting at Coors Field in June 2007
  • 1993 – Midwest League All-Star OF
  • 1994 – Carolina League All-Star 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
  • 2009 – 2009 TYIB Award: Best Postseason Moment


In 2005, Damon wrote Idiot: Beating "The Curse" and Enjoying the Game of Life with Peter Golenbock.


Damon married his high school sweetheart, Angela Vannice, in 1992 when he was 19. They had twins together, Madelyn and Jaxson, in 1999 [20] before divorcing in 2002. In 2004 Damon married Michelle Mangan, who gave birth to their first child, Devon Rose, in 2007.[21] Johnny and Michelle welcomed their second daughter, Danica Rayne, in 2008.[22]

Damon and his family reside in Windermere, Florida. He is active with the Wounded Warrior Project, which works to raise awareness and enlist the public's aid for the needs of severely injured service men and women. Damon has appeared on MTV Cribs where he gave a tour of his home near Orlando, Florida.

Damon was one of the victims of the $8 billion dollar fraud perpetrated by wealth manager Allen Stanford.[23]

Damon hosted WWE Raw on December 21, 2009.[24]

See also


  1. ^ Active Leaders & Records for Triples Baseball-Reference
  2. ^ Johnny Damon Bio
  3. ^ Johnny Damon - Biography Internet Movie Database
  4. ^ Johnny (Idiot) Damon Is the Yankees' Most Likable Savior In Years - New York Magazine
  5. ^ a b "Johnny Damon from the Chronology". Retrieved September 12, 2008. 
  6. ^ "Major League Leaderboard". Fan Graphs. Retrieved September 9, 2009. 
  7. ^ "Marlins vs. Red Sox Box Score". ESPN. June 27, 2003. 
  8. ^ ESPN - Johnny Damon Stats, News, Photos - New York Yankees - MLB Baseball
  9. ^ a b c d e Chuck, Bill (April 2, 2009). "100 random things about the Red Sox, Rays, and Yankees". The Boston Globe. Retrieved May 2, 2009. 
  10. ^ ESPN - Johnny Damon Stats, News, Photos - New York Yankees - MLB Baseball
  11. ^ Baseball Leaderboard | Fan Graphs
  12. ^ Boston Might Not Like Johnny Damon Anymore
  13. ^ Hack, Damon (December 24, 2005). "Damon Begins the Short-Haired Portion of His Career". The New York Times: p. D1. 
  14. ^ Schmidt, Michael S. (December 24, 2005). "Yankee Cut No Big Deal For Clipper". The New York Times: p. D5. 
  15. ^ Six Hits in One Game by Baseball Almanac
  16. ^ a b Kepner, Tyler (August 18, 2009). "Damon Feels Like Staying, and the Yanks Seem Willing". The New York Times. Retrieved August 18, 2009. 
  17. ^ Kepner, Tyler (December 18, 2009). "In Signing Nick Johnson, Yankees Turn Johnny Damon Away". New York Times. Retrieved December 20, 2009. 
  18. ^ Kepner, Tyler (January 28, 2010). "Its Farewell to Damon After Yanks Sign Winn". New York Times. Retrieved January 30, 2010. 
  19. ^ Tigers, Damon formalize one-year deal
  20. ^ The Official Site of The New York Yankees: Team: Player Information : Biography and Career Highlights
  21. ^ WHDH-TV - Sports - Damon, wife welcomed baby girl
  22. ^ Johnny Damon awaits fourth child, second with wife Michelle : Celebrity Baby Blog
  23. ^ Torre, Pablo (March 29, 2009). "Why Do Pro Athletes Go Broke?". (Sports Illustrated). Retrieved September 9, 2009. 
  24. ^ WWE Article On Johnny Damon Hosting RAW

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Johnny David Damon (born 5 November 1973) Major League Baseball outfielder currently playing for the New York Yankees.


  • We are just "the idiots" this year.
    • Statement about the Boston Red Sox being just "idiots" out to rewrite history. This was before the playoff games in which they overcame a 0-3 game deficit against the New York Yankees, to win a record 8 straight post-season games, ending with a shut-out of the St. Louis Cardinals, and winning their first World Series since 1918.
  • We're just being ourselves and having fun playing baseball. The biggest thing is when people look at our team, they can see that we're having a lot of fun.
    • Interview (24 October 2004)
  • It's getting better and better. You know, guys are feeling more comfortable and they are not afraid to speak up and be a leader. I mean, our team, we have 25 players, we have about 25 leaders, too. So whatever someone says, people listen.
    • Interview (24 October 2004)
  • Now overcoming that deficit from the Yankees, us not being very smart, us just playing baseball, I mean, that's the bottom line. I mean, we try to eliminate the thinking, and we've tried to let our natural abilities take over. So I think that's why the phrase about 'the idiots' kind of took off. But we don't think. If we use our brains, we're only hurting the team.
    • Interview (24 October 2004)
  • We all pulled together at the right time, unfortunately, we were down 3-0 to the Yankees when we decided to do it, but we did it. And we shocked the world.
    • Interview after The Boston Red Sox won the World Series of 2004
  • I know this is the greatest moment in my baseball career. We're world champions now. This is a dream come true.
    • Interview after The Boston Red Sox won the World Series of 2004

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