Deemed a Traitor, Johnny Damon Returns

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By HOWARD ULMAN
The Associated Press
Tuesday, May 2, 2006; 12:27 AM

BOSTON -- He left for the money, and he got even more when he returned.

Johnny Damon was greeted with a mixture of fake money and real bills on the warning track in center when he took the field in his return to Fenway Park on Monday night as a member of the New York Yankees.

It was his first game against the Red Sox since he left as a free agent four months ago for a four-year contract that was worth $12 million more than what Boston offered.

Before he took the field, Damon was greeted by 30 seconds of boos and a smattering of cheers when he stepped into the batter's box as the game's first hitter. The cheers increased when he took off his helmet and waved it to the crowd.

"I heard a lot more cheers than jeers," Damon said after going 0-for-4 in Boston's 7-3 win. "Regardless, I wanted to do it because these fans meant so much to me."

Fans also displayed captious signs, notably "Benedict Damon" and "Judas Demon."

Damon popped out to right field in his first plate appearance. He was nearly at second base when the ball was caught and the fans cheered loudly as he turned and headed back to the dugout.

When he went to center field in the bottom of the first, fans in the bleachers threw the pieces of green paper onto the warning track. A member of the Red Sox grounds crew came out of Boston's bullpen, scooped it up then jumped back over the fence into the bullpen.

"They hate to see players leave here," Damon said. "People around here are born to like the Red Sox."

Before the game, one bearded, middle-aged man tossed the clean-cut Damon a ball from behind the visitors' dugout, a souvenir 2004 World Series ball.

"You remember that, don't you?" the fan asked. "You helped with that. Thank you."

Not everyone felt the same. One female fan wore a Red Sox shirt with tape over Damon's name on the back and the word "Traitor" put in its place.


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© 2006 The Associated Press

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