2005’s big-name free agent
signing news was topped by the Boston Red sox’s center fielder Johnny Damon
who signed with the team’s archrival, The New York Yankees
, for a four-year contract.
The Red Sox, who hadn’t played in a World Series since 1986, had bested the Yankees 11 of 19 games during the regular 2004 season’s games but finished second in the division (becoming the “Wild Card” team in the playoffs.) to the team from the Bronx. The Yankees had won 101 games to the Red Sox’s 98.
Johnny damon’s contribution during the American League Champonship Series included hitting two home runs, one a Grand Slam in the second inning to win 10-3 against the Yankees in game 7. The Red Sox becoming the first team in major League Baseball’s long playoff history to overcome being down three games to zero wins, ending New York’s stellar season.
The Red Sox went on to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2004 World Series four games to zip. In the fourth game, on the same date as boston’s game 7 loss of the 1986 World Series, Johnny damon ledoff with a home run and the Red Sox were never touched by the Card’s, who had won the Major League high of 105 games won during the regular season.
Johnny Damon, during the yankee’s press conference was clean-shaven and having had his long hair cut, said he had mixed emotions about defecting to Beantown’s most hated opponent. Boston’s fans “are some of the greatest fans in the world.”
Damon, who had been selected by the Kansas City Royals in the first round of the 1992 Amateur draft right out of high school was enjoying his Major League career until during the 2003 playoofs when he had a dead-on collision with another fielder. Knocked flat, out-cold for five minutes he later was plagued by headaches that were aggravated by the noise from his electric razor,causing him to stop shaving. He then let his hair grow to go along with it, in contrast to his previous close to the collar cut. So a Boston baseball curse of legend was finally lifted.