Johnny Damon, like Wade Boggs and Roger Clemens before him (Jacoby Ellsbury would pull a similar stunt years later), straddles a unique line as an alum of both the Red Sox and their hated AL East rival, the New York Yankees. Red Sox fans felt understandably betrayed when the All-Star outfielder joined New York as a free agent, conveniently forgetting Damon’s contributions to Boston’s World Series, including his offensive explosion against the Yankees in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS.
Damon added to his World Series haul in 2009, becoming one of just 11 players to ever win the Fall Classic for both the Red Sox and Yankees. The 18-year vet also enjoyed stints with Kansas City, Oakland, Detroit, Cleveland and Tampa Bay over the course of his big-league tenure. With the 47-year-old’s career now in the rearview mirror—his last MLB appearance came as an Indian in 2012—you might be wondering where Damon’s rooting interests lie. Damon settled that debate once and for all on a new episode of SNY’s “Like We Never Left,” insisting that the Yankees will always be the organization he feels closest to.
“It made me feel relieved,” said Damon, describing what it felt like to finally get over the hump in ‘09. “I left the Boston Red Sox to join the New York Yankees and my journey was now complete.”
Damon enjoyed one of his strongest statistical years in 2009, tying a career-high with 24 homers while also plating 82 runs, his most since 2004. He was similarly productive in the postseason, supplying 18 hits including five for extra bases as New York cruised to its 27th world title, dispatching the reigning champion Philadelphia Phillies in six games.
“What we did to the Red Sox in ‘06 and they finished fourth place in our division, I was so happy. But they went out, spent some money, won in ’07 and I’m going, ‘Son of a gun!’” shared Damon in his conversation with host Sweeney Murti and former teammates Nick Swisher and A.J. Burnett. “But we went and spent some money in ’09 to get these great guys on our team. I feel like I’m more a Yankee than any other team.”
That’s not likely to endear Damon to any Red Sox fans, many of whom still carry lingering animosity from his defection in 2006. But even if Damon prefers to think of himself in pinstripes, it doesn’t erase his heroics in 2004, helping Boston win its first World Series in almost a century. Though Damon didn’t secure enough votes to maintain his Hall-of-Fame eligibility after debuting on the ballot in 2018, the Florida native still enjoyed a marvelous career, logging 2,769 hits (55th all-time) and 408 steals (68th) in the major leagues.