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[SPORTS] Johnny Damon (American-Thai) Baseball Player

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  • madchinaman
    BIOGRAPHY: http://www.jockbio.com/Bios/Damon/Damon_bio.html - Johnny David Damon was born on November 5, 1973, in Ft. Riley, Kansas, to Yome and Jimmy Damon.
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 19, 2005


      Johnny David Damon was born on November 5, 1973, in Ft. Riley,
      Kansas, to Yome and Jimmy Damon. His parents met when Jimmy, an
      American army staff sergeant, was stationed in Southeast Asia; Yome
      is Thai by birth. They already had one child, James Jr., when Johnny
      came along. The family lived on bases in Okinawa and in Germany
      before settling in Orlando, when Johnny was still a pre-schooler.

      The children in Johnny's Florida neighborhood were not particularly
      open-minded. They were mistrustful of a boy who was the product of a
      mixed-race marriage, especially with parentage from as exotic a
      locale as Thailand.


      When the Red Sox signed Johnny Damon, they got a lot more than they
      bargained for. Boston needed a centerfielder and leadoff man, but
      the club never anticipated he would also play the role of savior.
      (His looks notwithstanding!) Johnny's ultra-competitive approach to
      baseball and ultra-relaxed attitude toward everything else proved to
      be the winning combination for a team long on superstars but
      famously short on world championships. Perhaps it is only fitting
      that Boston is where Johnny found his baseball soul, becoming the
      player he had always been expected to be. This is his story…


      Johnny David Damon was born on November 5, 1973, in Ft. Riley,
      Kansas, to Yome and Jimmy Damon. His parents met when Jimmy, an
      American army staff sergeant, was stationed in Southeast Asia; Yome
      is Thai by birth. They already had one child, James Jr., when Johnny
      came along. The family lived on bases in Okinawa and in Germany
      before settling in Orlando, when Johnny was still a pre-schooler.

      The children in Johnny's Florida neighborhood were not particularly
      open-minded. They were mistrustful of a boy who was the product of a
      mixed-race marriage, especially with parentage from as exotic a
      locale as Thailand. Johnny was shy and soft-spoken, and would often
      stutter when he got excited. He endured his share of teasing over
      the years, but his positive outlook buoyed him during rough times.

      Johnny grew up cheering for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The team had a
      couple of good seasons in the late `70s and early `80s, but they
      mostly struggled as one of the NFL worst franchises. Although he
      rooted for quarterbacks Steve DeBerg and Steve Young, it was the
      uniform that Johnny really loved. He was a pretty fair football
      player as a kid, and his bright orange Bucs jersey was a key part of
      his wardrobe.

      First and foremost, however, Johnny was a baseball fan. His
      favorite player was Cal Ripken. He and his dad went to spring
      training games in nearby Osceola, and the occasional minor league
      contest, but he did not see a major league game in person until he
      was in one.

      Johnny always had great speed, and he first realized how fast he was
      in the fourth grade, when a group of girls began chasing him at
      recess. He wasn't sure what to do, so he just took off, and amazed
      himself with his explosive acceleration. He used his speed to great
      effect in Little League and beyond, catching the eye of Danny Allie
      when he was in seventh grade. Allie coached Orlando's Dr. Phillips
      High School baseball squad, one of the best in the state. Allie
      admired how hard Johnny worked at his game, and that he always ran
      to his position while other kids walked. Allie also liked the way
      Johnny kept his hair clean cut—he looked like a ballplayer. Little
      did the coach know that Jimmy Damon had to bribe his son with $20
      bills to keep his hair military length.

      Johnny was one of those kids who reached his full height and weight
      very quickly. By age 13, he stood six feet and 180 pounds. Thanks to
      his strength, speed and decidedly mature look, Johnny was able to
      bluff his way into a baseball league for 16- to 18-years-olds. To
      put the final touch on the ruse, he signed up as his older brother.

      Johnny enrolled at Dr. Phillips in 1988. Already a remarkable
      athlete, he also became a straight-A student. He made the football
      team that fall, and eventually developed into one of the school's
      best players—a fast, hard-hitting safety who had Division-I talent.
      In the spring of 1989, Johnny, a freshman, won the starting
      centerfield job for the Mighty Panthers. He would go on to be the
      first four-year starter in school history.

      Johnny had a solid freshman year and began drawing attention from
      big-league clubs as a sophomore. Ironically, however, It was at a
      1990 track meet that GM Allard Baird of the Kansas City Royals first
      saw him. Johnny, who also happened to be the best track athlete at
      Dr. Phillips, was a devastating sprinter in the 100- and 200-meters.
      After making a special trip to see the teenager on the diamond,
      Baird was dismayed to find that he was running track that day. But
      Johnny impressed by hustling over to the baseball team the moment
      his events were done. Baird hoped Johnny would stay under the radar
      so the Royals would have a shot at him in a couple of years.

      That didn't seem likely the following season when Johnny put it all
      together, hitting .371 with good power. One of the keys to his
      sparkling campaign was his developing plate discipline. Another was
      his makeup. Johnny was always calm, analytical and focused on what
      it took to win games. But Johnny wasn't the biggest story at Dr.
      Phillips in the spring of 1991. Senior Brian Barber enjoyed a great
      year and pitched his way into the first round of the draft.

      The recruiters started seriously working on Johnny at the beginning
      of his last year of high school. He had pretty much decided to turn
      pro if taken in any of the first few rounds, but also committed to
      the University of Florida as a backup plan. Under coach Joe Arnold,
      the Gators boasted a Top 10 team that included future major leaguers
      John Burke, Marc Valdes and Herbert Perry.

      Johnny opened his senior baseball campaign amid of a tidal wave of
      media coverage. He was Baseball America's pre-season pick for the
      top prep player in the nation, and Peter Gammons, meanwhile,
      announced on ESPN that he was a lock as the top pick in the nation.
      At home games, the Dr. Phillips PA announcer introduced Johnny
      as "the nation's #1 player on the nation's #1 team."

      And then it all came apart. Johnny stopped at a fast-food joint on
      the way back from a track meet and soon became violently ill. A week
      later, and 15 pounds lighter, Johnny rejoined the baseball team, but
      never felt 100%. Opposing teams still chose to pitch around him, and
      when the team started struggling, Johnny tried to do it all himself,
      and began swinging at bad pitches. The result was a .306 season,
      with five homers and 22 steals. Not bad, but not the type of numbers
      that make scouts drool. Even so, thanks to coach Allie's shrewd
      campaigning, Johnny was honored as Florida's top player.

      Johnny was extremely disappointed in his performance as a senior,
      and considered giving up baseball for a college track career.
      Several schools were interested in him as a sprinter, and he toyed
      with the idea of playing college football, too. There is little
      doubt he could have found a spot in Florida's program, even as a

      Cal Ripken, 1987 Topps

      When draft day rolled around, Johnny's name was nowehere among the
      top picks. As the first round wore on, he kept dropping down the
      board, convincing many teams that they could steal him in the second
      round. The Royals, who had grabbed Michael Tucker with the 10th
      overall pick, had five supplemental selections coming their way as a
      result of free agent losses. They used one of these choices on
      Johnny, making him the 35th overall player taken in 1992.


      Johnny, who was working hard to rebuild his body, signed for a
      $300,000 bonus and joined the short-season Gulf Coast Royals under
      manager Mike Jirschele. He tore up the GCL, batting .349 and swiping
      23 bases in 58 games. He led the league in hits, total bases and
      slugging, and the Royals went 41-18 to win the pennant. After being
      named the circuit's #1 prospect, Johnny graduated to the Class-A
      Midwest League, where he played for the Rockford Royals under
      Jirschele again. In 127 games in 1993, he hit .290 and stole 59
      bases, and claimed honors as the league's third-best prospect.

      The 1994 season found Johnny playing high-A ball for Wilmington of
      the Carolina League. At age 20 he blossomed into a legitimate four-
      tool player, batting .316 with power and excellent speed. CL
      managers recognized Johnny by naming him the best defensive
      outfielder, best hitting prospect and most exciting player.

      Johnny came by his numbers honestly, staying ahead of the pitchers
      as they tried different approaches against him. Actually, his stats
      would have been better had it not been for a bruised quadriceps that
      slowed him down for a couple of weeks and sidelined him for a couple
      more. The only weak part of Johnny's game was his throwing arm,
      which was accurate but not powerful.

      As for Johnny's distinctive swing, the organization decided not to
      mess with it. His mechanics seemed stiff and sometimes unsound, but
      his hand-eye coordination was so good he was able to compensate.
      What really turned heads was Johnny's ability to relax at the plate
      and execute a plan in the batter's box. This told KC management that
      he was just a year or two away from competing for a major league

      The Royals decided to promote Johnny one level in 1995, assigning
      him to the Wichita Wranglers of the Texas League. Two months into
      the season, he was among the league leaders in five major offensive
      categories, and had already eclipsed the team mark for triples with
      nine. It was clear at this point that his next move would be to the
      majors, not Class-AAA, so he began watching the big club with great

      What he saw wasn't pretty. The Royals had made great strides under
      manager Hal McRae, fashioning winning records with patchy talent.
      Despite a respectable record in '95, however, KC ate the dust of the
      Cleveland Indians, who dominated the AL Central. Veteran Vince
      Coleman, meanwhile, was wearing out his welcome with the Royals. On
      August 12, he was shipped out of town along with veterans Chris
      Jones and Pat Borders. Johnny now had his shot. By then his numbers
      for Whicita were .343 with 16 homers, 54 RBIs and 26 steals—good
      enough for Texas League MVP honors.

      Johnny Damon,
      1992 Upper Deck Minors
      Johnny was a revelation for the Royals. He got three hits,
      including a triple, in his first game, against the Seattle Mariners.
      In a game against the Texas Rangers, he challenged Pudge Rodriguez
      twice and won, stealing his first two major-league bases. In a post-
      strike season when baseball fans were looking hard for something to
      like about the game, Johnny literally gave them something to cheer
      about. He played hard, hustled, and his shy demeanor totally
      disarmed the press. The Royals nudged their way into the Wild Card
      race, taking a brief lead in late August, after Johnny hit a
      dramatic ninth-inning homer against the Milwaukee Brewers. But the
      team finished sluggishly, at 70-74. Johnny's final numbers—.282 with
      32 runs, 19 extra-base hits and seven stolen bases in 47 games—
      underscored his tremendous promise.

      Johnny soon found himself under intense pressure to save a franchise
      that had lots of talent, but no money to keep guys around. On the
      field, he was expected to blossom quickly into a star. Off the
      field, the team installed him as the centerpiece of its marketing
      campaign, headlining him in a commercial with George Brett . It was
      a funny spot that had the two seated in front of a big screen TV,
      battling over a remote control, but the message it sent to fans left
      Johnny little room for failure.

      In 1996, Johnny got the rookie treatment, as lefties devoured him
      and righties got him to chase after pitches out of the strike zone.
      Manager Bob Boone moved him up and down the order depending on how
      he was hitting, and who he was hitting against. Johnny never quite
      found his groove, but still held his own with a .271 average and 25
      steals in 517 at-bats. The Royals could have used a few more seasons
      like this, as a roster comprised mostly of journeymen posted a 75-86
      record. Their best players were centerfielder Tom Goodwin, infielder
      Jose Offerman and pitchers Tim Belcher and Kevin Appier.

      In 1997, KC continued its lackluster play and Boone was fired in
      July. His replacement, Tony Muser, sat Johnny down for a pep talk,
      telling him to focus on becoming a winning ball player despite the
      club's losing ways. Muser's advice gave Johnny a lift, as did the
      trade of Goodwin, which enabled him to reclaim his spot in
      centerfield. Although Johnny's overall stats showed minor
      improvement, he displayed solid progress against lefthanders,
      raising his average to a respectable .248. Johnny, who owed some of
      the credit to Muser, celebrated when the team removed the
      term "interim" from the manager's title.

      The 1998 season saw a slight jump in the team's record, and a big
      leap in Johnny's performance. He established new career highs in
      most categories, reaching double-figures in doubles, triples and
      homers and scoring 100 runs for the first time. Most notable was how
      Johnny began to turn on inside pitches. His 18 home runs were more
      than he had hit in his first three seasons combined.

      Most of the strides Johnny took in '98 were mental ones. In this
      respect, veteran third baseman Dean Palmer was a great help. He
      spent countless hours talking baseball with Johnny, pointing out
      nuances of the game, and passing along hitting tips. With a team-
      high 34 homers and 119 RBIs, Palmer—picked up midway during the
      previous season—had the credentials to do so. In a now familiar
      pattern, Palmer left the Royals after the season, signing as a free
      agent with the Detroit Tigers.

      Johnny Damon, 1996 Summit
      In 1999, the buzz in Kansas City revolved around the team's
      outfield. Jermaine Dye, acquired in a `97 deal for Tucker, was
      finally healthy and locked in. Carlos Beltran, who had a cup of
      coffee in `98, was inserted in centerfield and Johnny was shifted to
      left. The trio formed not just the best young outfield in baseball,
      but the best PERIOD. They led the majors in hits, doubles, triples,
      RBIs and assists, with Beltran winning Rookie of the Year honors,
      Dye leading the team with 27 homers and 119 RBIs, and Johnny
      topping .300 for the first time with a then-best 36 steals.

      The rest of the Royals, however, were an unmitigated disaster.
      Trying to limp along on a $25 million budget, KC had no depth and a
      putrid pitching staff. With only other above-average player was Mike
      Sweeney, the Royals finished at a miserable 64-97.


      Johnny made one major adjustment as he headed into the 2000
      campaign. He felt, and Muser agreed, that he was becoming seduced by
      his developing power. Home runs were a nice bonus from a leadoff
      man, but not at the expense of a lot of flyball outs. He was
      throwing away a lot of at-bats, swinging at pitchers' pitches in
      hopes of popping another homer or two. Johnny decided to forget
      about the longball and focus on lowering his swing plane. The more
      grounders and line drives he produced, the better his chance of
      creating havoc on the basepaths.

      This single change boosted Johnny to elite-level leadoff status, as
      his average soared to .322 and he still reached double-digits again
      in doubles, triples and homers. Johnny also led the league with 136
      runs and 46 stolen bases. His teammates, meanwhile, racked up big
      RBI totals—most notably Sweeney, whose 206 hits drove in 144 runs.
      Thought the bullpen was horrid again, KC's record improved to 77-85.
      In a season where 91 wins was good enough for the Wild Card, the
      club felt it wasn't all that far from a playoff berth.

      After the `00 season, the Royals tried to extend Johnny's contract
      with an offer of $32 million for five years. Agent Scott Boras
      advised him to turn it down, play one more year, and test the free
      agent market. This virtually guaranteed Johnny would be traded,
      which is exactly what happened. In January of 2001, he was dealt to
      the Oakland A's as part of a complex three-way swap that saw the
      Royals land closer Roberto Hernandez from the Devil Rays and Ben
      Grieve go from Oakland to Tampa Bay. KC also obtained Angel Berroa,
      giving them a good young shortstop to go with their new ninth-inning
      man. The team that wanted Johnny in the worst way, the Yankees,
      could not come up with the right package.

      The Oakland offense, built on walks and home runs, now had a new
      dimension. GM Billy Beane knew he had a rent-a-player in Johnny (who
      earned the team's highest salary, $7 million, in arbitration) but
      thought the A's could win it all. With sluggers Jason Giambi, Eric
      Chavez and Miguel Tejada in the heart of the order and a pitching
      staff featuring the Big Three of Mark Mulder, Barry Zito and Tim
      Hudson, manager Art Howe had an awesome lineup.

      When the A's started 8-18, however, it was the Mariners who gained
      the upper hand. They began the campaign on fire and finished with
      116 wins. Johnny had a decent year, but nothing like the one A's
      fans expected. , After stumbling from the gate, he needed a hot
      summer to bring his average over .250. He still managed to steal
      bases and score runs, but failed to provide much of a spark until
      the second half. Part of the problem for Johnny was living away from
      his wife and kids for the first time. It also took him time to
      adjust to the organization's approach to hitting.

      The A's recovered to win 102 times and claim the Wild Card. Johnny
      was firing on all cylinders by October, and had four hits, a walk
      and two steals against the Yankees in the opening game of the
      playoffs. But after a pair of victories, Oakland imploded and fell
      to New York in five games.

      Johnny, now a free agent, felt terrible about his subpar season. The
      A's were willing to stick with him, believing he could turn things
      around. Indeed, although his numbers didn't show it, Johnny had
      emerged as a better hitter during the `01 season, particularly
      learning from teammates how to work deeper into counts. He would
      have stayed in Oakland had the economics been different, but the
      club lacked the resources to sign anyone, so Johnny walked along
      with Giambi and closer Jason Isringhausen.

      Carlos Beltran, 1998 Tradition
      On December 21, Johnny became a member of the Red Sox. They had
      finished second to the Yankees four years in a row, and were
      starting the 2002 campaign with a new manager, Grady Little, to go
      with their new centerfielder. The rest of the squad included All-
      Stars Nomar Garciaparra, Manny Ramirez and Pedro Martinez, plus
      Derek Lowe, a closer for most of '01 who was back in the rotation,
      and Ugueth Urbina, now holding down the ninth-inning job. Sporting
      an eclectic mix of support players and stars, Boston was starting to
      develop a somewhat anti-establishment image that helped to
      distinguish the teamfrom the button-down Bronx Bombers. Johnny, who
      had cultivated a classic square-jawed, clean-cut look, took a while
      to come around to this style, but eventually embraced it and emerged
      as the franchise's most recognizable player.

      Despite the fresh attitude in Boston, the '02 edition of the Red Sox
      still finished second by 10 games, and missed the playoffs. Johnny
      had an excellent year, leading the league in triples and topping the
      club with 31 steals and 118 runs scored. He also covered enough
      ground in left-center to cover for the slower and sometimes brain-
      cramped Ramirez (who ended up capturing the batting title). Boston
      also enjoyed great performances from Lowe (21 victories), Martinez
      (Cy Young winner), Urbina (40 saves) and Garciaparra (56 doubles and
      120 RBIs). As a team, however, the Red Sox threw a lot of mistake
      pitches, booted a lot of balls, and left a lot of important runs on
      the bases.

      The 2003 Red Sox were a different story. Although they finished
      second yet again, their 95 wins and Wild Card berth came by way of
      across-the-board contributions, especially from new faces like Bill
      Mueller, Kevin Millar, Todd Walker, Damian Jackson, Gabe Kapler and
      David Ortiz. Boston embraced a ragged "Cowboy-Up" esprit de corps,
      with shaved heads and imaginative facial hair. Johnny wasn't about
      to go under the razor, choosing instead to let his hair grow. It all
      seemed to work, as the Red Sox bats kept the team in games until the
      final out, and a record six Boston hitters slugged 25 or more home
      runs. Johnny topped the 100-run mark once again, along with 30
      stolen bases.

      For the Red Sox, their Achilles heel was the bullpen. Unable to
      retain the services or Urbina, Boston spent the whole year looking
      for consistency in its relief staff. They never found it, and it
      cost them the pennant. After scoring an amazing comeback in the ALDS
      against the A's, the Red Sox pushed the Yankees to the decisive Game
      7 in the Championship Series. With Martinez on the mound, a 5-2 lead
      and only five outs to go, Little left his exhausted ace in the game
      and the Yankees came back to steal the pennant.

      Johnny was Boston's leading hitter in the Oakland series, but a
      horrific outfield collision with Jackson in Game 5 caused a
      concussion and left him woozy for the Yankees. He had to sit out the
      first two games of the ALCS against New York, and hit a
      lackluster .200 with just four runs.

      After the Yankees had so thoroughly gotten inside the heads of the
      Red Sox, Johnny proclaimed in 2004 that he and his teammates were
      simply going to stop using their brains. They would thenceforth be
      known as the "Idiots," with Johnny, Millar and Ortiz quickly
      established themselves as the lead morons. Their childish behavior
      and clubhouse pranks loosened up the locker room, and Johnny became
      a clubhouse legend when he began doing naked pull-ups before games.
      Under Little, this kind of stunt would have been problematic. New
      manager Terry Francona, however, saw the benefit of giving his guys
      some latitude.

      Johnny's wild look, meanwhile, was the talk of baseball. His hair
      fell around his shoulders and a thick beard covered everything other
      than his eyes, nose and mouth. When he arrived at spring training he
      blessed his teammates, and later Bronson Arroyo started wearing a T-
      short that read "What Curse? We Have Jesus On Our Side."

      The more important change in Johnny—he had packed on 15 pounds of
      muscle—went almost unnoticed. The extra power he flexed enabled him
      to work pitchers differently. When the count was in his favor, he
      could pick out a pitch and, rather than rolling over the top of it,
      drive it with the kind of backspin that would send it rising toward
      the fences.

      Johnny Damon,
      2002 Bowman Heritage
      Behind newcomer Curt Schilling, a healthy Pedro, and an excellent
      offense top-to-bottom, the Red Sox had a great year. Johnny was the
      catalyst, with 35 doubles, 20 homers, 123 runs, 19 steals and a .304
      average. Thanks to some patient hitters in the eight- and nine-
      holes, he came up with tons of men on base. He slugged .574 in these
      situations, and his 94 RBIs were a career high.

      Although the Yankees were miles ahead in the AL East for much of the
      season, Boston closed to within three games with 98 wins. There was
      no fear heading into the post-season. In the ALDS, the Red Sox took
      care of the Angels in three straight to set up another league
      championship showdown with New York. The first two games, in the
      Bronx, went to the enemy, 10-7 and 3-1. Game 3, in Fenway, was a 19-
      8 embarrassment for Boston, which now trailed 3-0 in the series. No
      one was hitting, including Johnny.

      Facing an uphill battle never accomplished by a playoff team, the
      Red Sox began chipping away at the Yankee bullpen and forced the
      next two games into extra innings. Ortiz won them both with clutch
      hits, sending the series back to New York. Schilling, injured in the
      series opener, made a surprise return to the mound in Game 6 and
      dominant in a 4-2 victory. Although the rest of the Red Sox had come
      to life, Johnny was still slumping badly, with just three hits in
      the series.

      Prior to Game 7, Johnny's teammates told him this was his time to
      shine. Francona stopped him before he took the field and reminded
      him what a superb player he is. Infused with confidence, he struck
      the knockout blow for Boston, greeting reliever Javier Vazquez's
      first pitch with a bases-loaded bomb to right for a 6-0 lead in the
      second inning. The Red Sox then cruised to a 10-3 laugher,
      completing an unprecedented comeback and advancing to the World
      Series. Johnny's six RBIs established a new ALCS single-game record.

      Despite some shoddy defense, the Red Sox outscored the St. Louis
      Cardinals 11-9 in Game 1. From then on, the Boston pitchers
      dominated. When Johnny led off Game 4 with a home run, Lowe and the
      Sox had all the support they needed. Boston finished off its sweep
      with a 3-0 win that erased 86 years of futility. Johnny batted .286
      for the series and led all hitters with four runs scored.

      Johnny Damon, David Ortiz,
      Pedro Martinez & Curt Schilling,
      2004 Sports Illustrated
      The next morning, Johnny walked into a barber shop in Lowell to
      get his beard trimmed. When word spread that he was in the chair,
      hundreds of fans gathered outside and began chanting his name. It
      was the perfect reward for years of high expectations, constant
      pressure, and disappointing finishes. It's not accurate to say
      Johnny has risen from the dead, but he has certainly saved Boston
      from the purgatory that had once been baseball's most frustratingly
      inept franchise.


      Johnny has developed into a topnotch leadoff hitter. He is
      patient, knows how to adjust to different pitching patterns, and his
      pitch recognition is above average. Johnny now has the strength to
      drive the ball out of the park, and with this power he has begun to
      approach at-bats differently. There are times he is definitely
      looking to drive the ball. That being said, he'll still take a walk
      when one is offered, and won't get himself out swinging at bad two-
      strike pitches.

      On the basepaths, Johnny has made a study of opposing pitchers, and
      could double his steals if the Red Sox had a running team. He may be
      at his best in tight-game situations. For example, in the 2004 post-
      season, he swiped five bases in 14 games.

      Johnny's arm remains his only weakness. It is no better than average
      for a centerfielder, and the way he throws is just plain ugly. He
      makes up for this in some respects by getting a terrific jump on
      balls off the bat, and his first step is almost always perfect for
      the line he needs to take. He charges grounders well and sets up
      right, getting the ball to the right base quickly.

      Johnny's specialty in KC and Oakland was the highlight-reel, over
      the fence snatch. In more enclosed Fenway Park, his outfield
      theatrics are limited to diving for low liners and balls in the

      Johnny's ability to build chemistry can't be overstated. He helps
      his teammates relax in pressure-filled spots, but they respond just
      as eagerly to the intensity he brings when the money is on the line.



      Johnny David Damon was born November 5, 1973 in Fort Riley, Kansas)

      His mother is of Thai descent and his father is white; they met
      while his father was serving in the United States Army in Vietnam.
      He was born on an Army base, and spent much of his early childhood
      as an "Army brat," moving to several bases before his father left
      the Army and settled the family in the Orlando area.

      Johnny was originally signed by Allard Baird after he was selected
      as a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds of the June
      1992 draft as compensation for the signing of Kurt Stillwell by San
      Diego. He was selected out of Dr. Phillips High School, Orlando. FL
      and was the 35th pick overall. He played for the Royals from 1995 to
      2000, and spent 2001 with the Oakland Athletics before coming to
      Boston. He bats and throws left-handed.

      During high school he was named to the USA Today's High School All-
      America team. He was also named the Florida Gatorade Player of the
      Year as a senior.

      Johnny has served as honorary co-chairman of the Medical Center of
      Independence Benefit Golf Classic from 1996-2000...He also serves as
      a spokesperson for the Muscular Dystrophy Association...He has been
      nominated for national honors such as the Roberto Clemente Man of
      the Year award, for outstanding service to his team and community;
      and the Branch Rickey Award, which is given to the MLB player who
      best personifies "service above self".


      Johnny David Damon (born November 5, 1973 in Fort Riley, Kansas) is
      an outfielder in Major League Baseball with the Boston Red Sox. His
      mother is of Thai descent and his father is white; they met while
      his father was serving in the United States Army in Vietnam. He was
      born on an Army base, and spent much of his early childhood as
      an "Army brat," moving to several bases before his father left the
      Army and settled the family in the Orlando area. He was drafted by
      the Kansas City Royals in the first round of the 1992 amateur draft;
      he was the 35th pick overall.

      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 new look,
      probably 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 Christ. Fans with center-field seats at
      Fenway Park began showing up with fake beards and wigs to support
      their favorite center-fielder. Even Bronson Arroyo was seen with a t-
      shirt that read 'What curse?, We got Jesus on our side'. Arroyo
      and "Jesus" helped record vocals to the Dropkick Murphys song Tessie
      before the season.

      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.

      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

      During the 2004 ALCS, Damon was in a bit of a slump, getting on base
      much more rarely than he had been during the regular season and the
      ALDS. However, he redeemed himself on October 20 by hitting two home
      runs, including a grand slam in the 2nd inning, to help the Boston
      Red Sox become the first team in Major League history to overcome a
      3-0 series deficit, in a 10-3 victory over the New York Yankees in
      game 7.
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