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JOHNNY DAMON
Baseball All-Star

Johnny Damon was born in Fort Riley, Kansas. His father was a staff sergeant in the United States Army, stationed in Thailand. Damon, born at Ft. Riley, an Army base in Kansas, spent much of his early childhood as an "Army bright" moving to several bases from Okinawa, Japan, to West Germany, before his father left the Army and settled the family in Orlando, Florida, during Damon's preschool years.

It was during his senior year in high school in Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, Florida, 1992, when Damon's talent began to shine. 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 Florida Gatorade Player of the Year. 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 and played for the Royals from 1995 to 2000.

Damon spent 2001 with the Oakland Athletics. In 2001 he was 3rd in the league in at bats (644) and 7th in runs (108). 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.

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.

On June 27, 2003, Damon became only the second major leaguer in the modern era (since 1900) to record 3 base hits in the first inning of a game (against the Florida Marlins).

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.

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 (2002-2005), Damon appeared in 597 games (590 of them as the center fielder, and 7 as a designated hitter). 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. 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. He led the AL with 35 infield hits.

On December 20, 2005, Damon signed a 4-year, $52 million dollar contract with the New York Yankees.

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. 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 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 6 hits in a 9 inning game since Myril Hoag accomplished the feat in 1934.



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