Johnny Damon and the 10 Craziest Players in Boston Red Sox History
Over the 110-year history of the Boston Red Sox franchise, the team has employed its share of wild and passionate players. From the ragtag group of “idiots” in 2004 that fueled the Sox's first World Series title in 86 years to timeless greats Bill Lee and Luis Tiant, the Red Sox have never lacked enthusiastic players in their dugout.
For years, Red Sox players have fed off the energy displayed in the hometown stands to form personalities entirely their own, consistently making Fenway Park one of the most exciting venues in professional sports.
10. David Ortiz
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Who could forget Big Papi’s historic string of clutch hits to propel the Red Sox to the 2004 World Series, essentially putting the team on his back and carrying it to the title?
From Ortiz’s iconic point to the sky after every home run to his gregarious personality in the clubhouse, Big Papi has endeared himself to fans and players alike during his nine years with the Sox. Even though Ortiz may have lost some of the power that made him a mainstay in the MVP race during the early 2000s, Papi will forever be remembered for his iconic smile and crazy clubhouse antics.
9. Luis Tiant
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Known for his spirited personality and acrobatic delivery, Luis Tiant consistently baffled American League hitters during his seven years with the Red Sox.
“El Tiante” was one of only five pitchers to complete four straight shutouts and once threw 163 pitches in one game, confirming his reputation as a competitor and a workhorse. There will never again be a pitcher quite like Tiant, who could effortlessly turn his body completely away from the batter and still deliver a perfect strike.
8. Bronson Arroyo
Apart from rounding out the rotation as the Red Sox's fifth starter during their 2004 championship run, Bronson Arroyo is best known for his ridiculous cornrows and venture into the world of country music.
During his time with the Sox, Arroyo exhibited the same determination in his quest to find success as a musician as he did during his starts at Fenway. Most memorable, perhaps, is Arroyo’s entertaining recording of the Boston classic “Dirty Water,” with Kevin Millar and Johnny Damon singing in the background.
7. Pedro Martinez
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Although Pedro Martinez was one of the best pitchers in Red Sox history, he also had a wild side. During his times off the mound, Martinez was known as a clubhouse prankster, frequently playing jokes on teammates and talking trash to the Sox opponents.
Martinez’s most famous act of wildness came during the 2003 American League Championship Series, when he shoved Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer to the ground following an altercation on the mound.
6. Kevin Youkilis
Known for his ferocious intensity and signature beard, Youkilis can frequently be seen in the dugout throwing helmets and breaking bats after strikeouts. In 2010, Youkilis cemented his fierce reputation when he charged the mound against Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello.
Nonetheless, Youkilis has been one of the Sox's most productive hitters in the past several years and complements his competitiveness with Gold Glove-caliber defense and patience at the plate.
5. Jonathan Papelbon
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Jonathan Papelbon is arguably the most intense player ever to don a Red Sox uniform, as evidenced by his signature stare-down while taking the sign from the catcher.
Nonetheless, the closer definitely knows how to let loose, and his “Irish Jig,” performed in boxers after the Sox clinched the AL East, was one of the highlights of the team’s 2007 World Series run.
4. Kevin Millar
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Kevin Millar and his call for the Red Sox to “Cowboy Up” in preparation for the 2004 playoffs drove the team to the World Series title. Soon after his arrival in Boston in 2003, Millar became known as a clubhouse spark plug, always keeping the Sox energized and ready to compete.
However, it was Millar’s odd demand to the Yankees before Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, when he insisted “Don’t let us win tonight,” that solidified his reputation as an unusual motivator. Nonetheless, Millar’s crucial walk in Game 4 set up Dave Roberts' steal of second base and was a critical turning point in the Sox's run to the World Series.
3. Manny Ramirez
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During Ramirez’s seven years with the Sox, “Manny Being Manny” was a phrase constantly on the minds of Red Sox Nation. Despite his role as a perennial All-Star for the Sox, Ramirez will be remembered in Boston for his antics both on and off the field.
From his bathroom break in the Green Monster to high-fiving a Sox fan in Baltimore after a catch in left field, Ramirez had more than his share of perplexing moments in a Red Sox uniform.
2. Bill “Spaceman” Lee
Bill Lee, given the nickname “Spaceman” by Red Sox teammate John Kennedy, played for Sox from 1969 to 1978.
Although he holds the franchise record for most starts by a left-hander, Lee is better known for his eccentric personality and peculiar behavior off the baseball field. During his playing days, Lee declared his support for controversial issues such as the Cultural Revolution in China and school busing in Boston.
In addition, the pitcher engaged in frequent altercations with team personnel, which led the Sox to deal him to the Montréal Expos at the end of the1978 season. Lee famously responded to his trade with a furious tirade aimed at manager Don Zimmer, proclaiming, “Who wants to be with a team that will go down in history alongside the ‘64 Phillies and the ‘67 Arabs?”
1. Johnny Damon
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Johnny Damon’s demeanor and appearance during his time with the Sox epitomized the team’s “idiot” persona, and his energetic play and timely hitting helped the team reach the 2004 World Series. Damon’s time in Boston was unforgettable with his Jesus-like beard and all-out approach to hitting and fielding.
Although Damon eventually signed with the Yankees, shaving his trademark facial hair and losing the respect of many Sox fans, his antics will forever be ingrained in the memories of Red Sox Nation.