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No Dealing Damon From Detroit

I’ve mentioned many times over a number of years on the radio, and probably a time or two in this blog, that one of the nicer professional athletes to deal with from a media perspective, is Detroit Tigers DH, Johnny Damon.

From the first time I met him, and that was probably was when he was still with Kansas City, he was always one of the more approachable baseball players, and would almost always find time for an interview.

During the discussion, he would provide intelligent answers, and not rush through it, as though it was the last thing he wanted to do. As opposed to an arrogant athlete, Damon actually seems to be a sensitive individual, who does care about people.

The former Yankee comes across, as though he can still relate to the average working man. He speaks as though he has an understanding, for the day to day struggles of the average person, to pay bills, and make it through life’s ups and downs. His personal wealth from being a star athlete, has not clouded his perspective on the real world. Maybe he has a greater sensitivity to people in general, because he struggled with stuttering as a youngster, according to Wikipedia.

With all that in mind, it wasn’t surprising to me that he decided to remain with Detroit. His split from the Red Sox management and some of the fans, doesn’t seem to have been very pleasant for him. As previously mentioned, he does seem to be a sensitive kind hearted soul. Even though some of his former Boston teammates, like Jason Varitek and David Ortiz, tried to persuade him to return to the team that he played a major role with, in rallying Boston from a 3-0 deficit against the New York Yankees in the 2004 ALCS, ( 2 home runs and a grand slam in game 7.) and then helping them to win the team’s first World Series since 1918, by sweeping St.Louis, he will remain in Motown for now.

The injury riddled Red Sox ( without Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Cameron, Hideki Okajima, Jason Varitek,Kevin Cash, Eric Patterson, Jarrod Saltalamacchia. ) were 5.5 games behind the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays before Tuesdays games had begun. The Tigers were 10 games back of the AL Central leading Minnesota Twins, and almost out of reach of the wild card spot, at 14 games back. They have gained one game back from the Twins as of Wednesday.

In understanding Damon’s sensitivities, you could almost read between the lines of his comments, in terms of his feelings about the possibility of returning as a Red Sox player. According to, Damon stated: “ I had a great time playing there. I told the team what it would take, in terms of dollars and years – but it got ugly when it became apparent that resigning me wasn’t a priority.” Damon also told, that “ the broken relationship with the Boston fans has ‘absolutely’ left a scar on his psyche………..”

During an extended pre-game show on the Red Sox NESN telecast, due to rain, veteran baseball journalist and Massachusetts native Peter Gammons, referred to an incident in Boston, where Damon was walking through the streets of Boston with his wife, and was on the receiving end of some harsh comments from a Boston fan. Gammons said that Damon took it personally, and said that he thought that the Tigers DH would be worried how the Boston fans would receive him as a returning player. ( This obviously stems from his move to the Yankees and a feeling of betrayal for many Sox fans. ) Gammons stated that from his perspective, he would be welcomed back by Red Sox nation.

With his exceptional class and down to earth demeanor, Damon is the sort of player who will be applauded by almost everyone, almost everywhere that he goes, other than in Boston, where there are still some bitter and broken hearted Red Sox fans, who have quickly set aside the contributions of the Kansas native, to their beloved baseball team.

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