Thursday, May 1, 2014
JOHNNY THE GREAT
I have been reminiscing a lot lately, especially about the 2009 season. The stars seemed to align for the Yankees that year. Speaking of stars....Johnny Damon seems to be the star of a lot of the memories I have from that year. It's no secret, he has always been one of my favorites for a lot of reasons. He will always be remembered as a leader, a fan favorite and most of all humble.
Aside from actually winning the World Series that year and watching the reactions of the players after the last out and holding the trophy my favorite moment starred Damon himself. I still remember the two-out single that Damon hit in the top of the 9th inning in game 4. I can still see it. I see the infield shift that the Phillies put on Mark Teixeira. I see Damon running on the first pitch heading to second.
I remember watching the ball bounce to Pedro Feliz who had shifted away from third and into shortstop. I was excited when Brad Lidge did not move over to third base to cover the empty bag allowing Damon to make his infamous two bag steal. It was beautiful, ingenious....and pure instinct.
As great as he was on the field one of my favorite things about Johnny Damon was how he has such a great spirit which is why I think he was well-liked by not only fans but players alike. He has always been humble, and I can say that because I was lucky enough to meet him and see that for myself.
In 2011 I went to a Yankee game with fellow BYB writer Erica Morales. We got to the game early enough to watch batting practice up close and personal. We met a few players and one of those was former Yankee Johnny Damon who was with his new team the Tampa Bay Rays. He walked past us and it looked like he was on his way to something rather important, but when we called him he stopped what he was doing and came over to take a quick picture. I thought that was very cool of him and it is something I will never forget.
As great as all of that is, there is so much more to Johnny Damon the baseball player. I love how he gives back to others. His foundation has so much involved in it. It's got so many different facets to it, if you don't know about it you can check it out HERE. Damon himself has 6 children so he understands the importance of developing leadership and growth opportunities for disadvantaged children so he works closely with a lot of organizations. I like how he has dedicated his time and resources not only to kids in need, but our service men and women who fight so hard for us. A lot of times I think we forget about what they have sacrificed for us and when they get home they need US to help them get their lives back together. Damon recognizes that and that is why his partnership with the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) is so impressive because he gives a lot of resources to help returning veterans get back on their feet.
Reading the initiatives of his organization is one thing, but just reading some of the comments on his website really shows you what kind of impact he is having on people. A few of the comments on the website actually brought me to tears because you can tell that his work has really made a positive impact on people. There are so many on there, everything from wounded veterans who received benefits from WWP, to sick children who got some cool memorabilia from Damon himself.
There are many great causes in the world, and this is no different. He may not be playing professional baseball anymore but you can find him on Twitter now! If you want to help out with his cause, follow him on twitter at @JohnnyDamon and donate to his cause! As much as I have liked Johnny Damon the player, my admiration has grown even more after reading about all of his great work off the field too. That is why he will always be a great Yankee to me.
--Jeana Bellezza, BYB Senior Writer and Editor
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