Playing days in past, Damon enjoying home
Outfielder has memorabilia from his time with the Red Sox, Yanks and more
Johnny Damon is about to have a big homecoming Wednesday night at Fenway Park, as part of Boston's 10-year reunion ceremony to honor members of the club that ended an 86-year title drought.
In the meantime, we got a look inside Damon's real home to see his life after baseball.
With an introductory drum solo in the same room where bands often jam, and with an assist from his French Bulldog named Truffles, the former All-Star outfielder gives MLB.com viewers a virtual tour inside his nearly 30,000-square-foot mansion down the coast in Florida. It is the latest in a new video series, Home Field Advantage presented by Coldwell Banker.
"Home to me means something that's livable," Damon said. "Home is very important to me. I mean, home is what I always looked forward to when my playing days were over.
"Home is forever. Baseball is a small piece of your life. I feel like we put together a lovely home and a fun home. I'm glad I get to enjoy it a lot more now."
Damon, 40, played 18 years in the Majors, matching the jersey number he wore most famously during his career. He wore a Red Sox uniform from 2002-05, leading the "Idiots" of 2004 to that historic comeback against the rival Yankees in the American League Championship Series, homering twice in that Game 7 at Yankee Stadium. Then came the sweep of St. Louis as the fabled "Curse of the Bambino" was removed at last.
The only question on Wednesday will be whether the Fenway faithful will be able to block out what happened the next four years, when Damon played for the Yankees and helped them win the 2009 title, the 27th in Yankees history. Visit his home now, and you will see the artifacts of both sides of that rivalry, along with remnants of other stays. Damon is quite satisfied with the memorabilia collection he amassed as a player, and also of the way he displays is now.
"I'm very proud of what I was able to accomplish on a baseball field and the championships," Damon said. "I know some guys just go non-stop at collecting. Then you have to end up putting your stuff in the kitchen, in the living room. So I think we did a pretty good job."
Take the large display case that holds his navy No. 18 AL batting-practice jersey and the lineup card showing that he led off and played center field in the 2005 All-Star Game at Comerica Park, which incidentally would become his home park in 2010. It was his second All-Star selection, having also earned one in 2002, bookending his time with the Red Sox.
Damon shows off a pair of silver cleats in that display case that are trimmed in red, white and blue, adorned in stars with "Johnny D" on the sides and "All-Star Game / 2005 / Motor City" on the tongue.
"My Puma shoes," he said, "filled with Swarovski crystals."
The tour offers a trip through Damon's career, starting with a supposedly life-size growth chart that was handed out to Royals fans during his stay from 1995-2000 in Kansas City, where it all began. Standing next to the poster now, he is considerable larger than the image.
"They kind of shrunk me in here, so everyone thought I was this skinny and they could pick on me," Damon said with a grin. "But obviously I am pretty ripped up ... and pretty big."
Forward much later to June 18, 2011: Damon recorded his 500th career double, making him the 11th player in Major League history to reach that milestone along with at least 100 triples, 200 home runs and 2,500 hits. It drew a standing ovation that day at Tropicana Field, where Damon, then with the Rays, was playing in his final full season before finishing his career in 2012 with Cleveland.
"One of my prized possessions," Damon says in the video, showing a dirty, game-used base with a marker documenting his feat against the Marlins. "When I got 500 doubles, it put me on that next level."
Damon was stopped short on his bid to another milestone, 3,000 hits. He wound up with 2,769, and entering Tuesday's action that was one more than Ichiro Suzuki's total. But there are many ways to measure one's impact in a long Major League career.
This home is definitely one of them.
"I definitely wanted people to know that my house was made to be fun," Damon said. "This place is definitely fun. The pingpong table, the music, a lot of times a few of our band friends come and they jam, play guitars and the drums upstairs."