And here we are, the biggest Red Sox traitor of all time.
Every other person on this list has something that dulls his traitor label:
- Kevin Youkilis was traded from the Red Sox and did not perform in a Yankees uniform.
- Alan Embree was released from the Red Sox and fared poorly with the Yankees.
- Carl Mays comes close but had his best years with Boston, and by the time New York won the World Series, he was an afterthought on the squad.
- Jacoby Ellsbury never received a contract offer from the Red Sox.
- Luis Tiant was fading and has earned back his credentials with the Red Sox as he has been a much bigger presence representing the Red Sox brand than the Yankees.
- Wade Boggs would have re-signed with Boston had Jean Yawkey's offer stood. But he comes close to Damon.
- Barrow was not a player. Fair or not, this list is primarily concerned with traitorous players.
- Roger Clemens at least padded his transition from Boston to New York with a stop over in Toronto. But like Boggs, he comes close.
- Babe Ruth was sold, and the Red Sox owner's finances were a big part of the reason, even if Ruth didn't help matters.
That leaves Damon. So why is Damon the biggest traitor in Red Sox history?
For one, there's this quote uttered in May 2005 to MLB.com's Alan Eskew:
There's no way I can go play for the Yankees, but I know they are going to come after me hard. It's definitely not the most important thing to go out there for the top dollar, which the Yankees are going to offer me. It's not what I need.
What did Damon do? Took top dollar. From the Yankees.
The second thing he did was spurn the Red Sox's offer of four years and $40 million. If being paid top-dollar wasn't important to him, that was a pretty good payday. Instead, he took four years and $52 million from the Yankees. He would also contribute to the 27th World Series championship for New York, earned in 2009.
To add insult to injury, Damon played better for the Yankees than he did with the Red Sox, hitting more home runs thanks to the short porch in right field:
|NYY (4 yrs)
|BOS (4 yrs)
To boot, there was just something wrong about Damon's caveman look disappearing into a clean-shaven face.
Damon was roundly booed in all his return trips to Fenway Park and is still persona non grata for fans, who have long memories.
But Damon wasn't done spurning Boston. While with the Tigers in 2010, the Red Sox claimed Damon on waivers, hoping he could help spark a team that had been beset by injuries. While Damon could have accepted the claim and rejoined the Red Sox in the midst of a wild-card race, he chose to stay in Detroit, as ESPN Boston reported.
Damon said that how his departure from Boston was handled complicated the issue, Tyler Kepner of The New York Times wrote.
It was a mistake by Damon, who would have been welcomed back with open arms, because it would have been his decision to come back to Boston. But now, it "will stand as the final unforgivable act for a fan base that feels scorned once again," according to Sports Illustrated.
And so Damon stands atop the heap as the biggest Red Sox traitor.