New York Yankees happy to see Johnny Damon in its ranks

Johnny David Damon, an American Major League Baseball outfielder, could have canceled his 4-year contract with the New York Yankees and even finished his career last spring. Lukily, he didn’t do that.

There were a lot of ideas about Damon’s absence early last spring, involving suggestions about "personal reasons,'' that there was something wrong with Damon's family. But Damon commented the absence by his doubts whether he wanted to keep playing. If not he could have walked away from the final three years of his $52-million, four-year contract.

A few days were enough for his decision to return.

On December 20, 2005 , Damon signed a 4-year, $52 million dollar contract with the New York Yankees. During the first Yankee-Red Sox game of the 2006 season on May 1, Johnny Damon was cheered for his first plate appearance. After that plate appearance, he was booed by Fenway fans. He went 0-for-4. A minority of fans cheered Damon when he tipped his hat to his old team's dugout and then to the rest of the Fenway crowd. 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.

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 -- as the left-handed hitter was able to take advantage of the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium. 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).

Damon returned to the camp feeling better and looking fresh. It was the first year he had a chance to relax following offseasons. He also looked happier because he felt the support of the team and knew that the team was in need of him.