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Damon shaves beard for charity05/21/2004 3:32 PM ET
By Alan Ginsberg / MLB.com
BOSTON -- The caveman look has gone the way of, well, the caveman -- at least for the moment.
Red Sox center fielder and leadoff hitter Johnny Damon -- who reported to Spring Training with a heavy beard, drawing comparisons to everyone from cavemen to Jesus -- shaved his facial hair early Friday afternoon at Boylston Plaza at the Prudential Center, earning money for two Boston Public Library programs as the Gillette Company launched its new M3Power shaving system.
Licensed shaver Letizia Grieci, of the Giacomo & Rondi Salon, performed the shave, which Damon called "smooth, like [David] Ortiz."
Just before Grieci started, Damon was asked if he had any last words.
"Just please don't cut the hair," he said, adding, before "I can't wait to see the tan line."
Damon said that he doesn't have any plans to cut his hair in the future, even if several of his teammates shave their heads at the end of the season, as they did last year.
"This year's going to be a different year," he said. "We have a better team. We're going to win it all, and I think that shaving thing got a little out of hand. Kevin [Millar] shaved his head, realized how ugly of a head he had and started talking some other guys into it, but Kevin's good at that. Kevin's good at talking guys into it, but he's got to twist my arm a little harder."
The crowd cheered as Grieci began trimming Damon's beard to prepare it for shaving, and applauded again as she applied shaving cream.
"I feel like half the man I used to be," said Damon afterward.
Damon donated his fee from the event to support ReadBoston, an early literacy campaign founded in 1995 by Boston mayor Thomas M. Menino, and a tutoring program associated with the Boston Public Library.
"I didn't read well when I was young," said Damon. "They help kids do that. My parents were always working. I never had help on my homework, so it just related a lot with my life and me growing up. I think it just helps out everybody. It brings awareness and hopefully, they can get a lot more donations and help out a lot more kids, and that's what Boston's about. We have all these colleges here. We want to try to make each kid smart enough to go to these colleges.
"We're going to have even more 'smahtah' kids here in Boston."
NESN studio host Tom Caron served as the master of ceremonies.
"This razor is going to be put to the ultimate test today: taking on Johnny Damon's beard," he announced.
Caron also observed, during what he called his first ever "pre-shave show," that the several hundred who turned out "to watch a man get shaved" proved just how popular the Red Sox are.
"This is absolutely the best baseball market there is," agreed Damon. "Boston fans rule."
Several "Damon Disciples" -- fans who don fake beards and wigs in support of the outfielder's hirsute look -- attended the event, including a few who skipped school commitments to attend.
Grieci hoped she hadn't made any enemies among Damon's fans with her role in the shave.
"Some of them might be mad at me," she worried. "They might hate me."
But for the most part, the Disciples seemed to remain loyal to their new cult hero despite the loss of his beard, chanting "Johnny is a stud" during the shave.
Michele Szynal represented Gillette on stage, telling the crowd that Damon has "great bone structure, but underneath that rug, who would know?"
Damon said that it had taken him about three weeks to grow the beard to its full shagginess, but reassured the Disciples that "it should be back in about 10 days."
"I'm not sure if I can get used to this look," he said. "I definitely look a lot younger, but I've definitely realized that I need to lose some weight out there, too."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.