Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
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 out of Orlando Dr. Phillips High School; he 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 the 2004 season, Damon established himself as among the premier lead-off hitters and center fielders in the game today. At the plate, he batted .304 with 20 home runs and 94 RBIs, and showed an improved patience while batting.
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. (Some people also drew comparisons to the late Jim Morrison, the lead singer of The Doors.) Fans with center-field seats at Fenway Park began showing up with fake beards and wigs to support their favorite center fielder. Sales of t-shirts that read "W.W.J.D.D." (for "What would Johnny Damon do?") and "Johnny is my homeboy" were robust. Even Bronson Arroyo was seen with a shirt that proclaimed, "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 2004.
During the 2004 ALCS, Damon was in a bit of a slump, getting on base much less often 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.
In 2005, Damon wrote "Idiot: Beating "The Curse" and Enjoying the Game of Life" with Peter Golenbock, and also appeared on Late Night With Conan O'Brien in April during a series against the New York Yankees.
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