By: Joel Alderman
A tenth year reunion will be taking place in Fenway Park on Wednesday (May 28th) prior to Boston’s interleague game with the Atlanta Braves. It will bring back many of the self-proclaimed “idiots,” better known as the 2004 Red Sox, who ended the “Curse of the Bambino” by winning the World Series after a drought of 86 years.
The returnees will include Kevin Millar, the first baseman, who was responsible for tagging himself and his teammates with the nickname of “idiots.”
Damon and Manny said they would be there
One of those who says he’ll be back is Johnny Damon, and it should be very interesting to see and hear what kind of a reaction he will get from the fans.
Another controversial former member of the Red Sox, who had planned to attend, is Manny Ramirez, after being strongly encouraged by Pedro Martinez.
However, he was just signed on Sunday by his former Red Sox GM, Theo Epstein, now with the Cubs. Manny agreed to serve as a hitting coach and occasional player in the Chicago farm system. That could interfere with his original plan to go to Boston on Wednesday
In addition to Millar, Pedro and Damon, others who have notified the team that they expect to be back include Trot Nixon, Mike Timlin, Jason Varitek, Keith Foulke, Derek Lowe, Tim Wakefield, Ellis Burks, Orlando Cabrera, Pokey Reese, Ramiro Mendoza, Scott Williamson, and a few more.
Ramirez and Damon left in controversy
Ramirez and Damon were two players who left Boston under strained circumstances. What kind of reception the fans would have given Manny will now probably not be known. We should soon find out the response they will give Damon when he is introduced. He might even be wearing a Red Sox jersey again, which would be quite a sight.
As is well known, when Johnny was last seen as a member of the Red Sox he had hair down to his shoulders and a very full, bushy beard. He was a favorite of the fans. Men, women and children of all took to him.
Then he became a free agent and signed with the Yankees after the 2005 season. For the next four years he came back to Fenway in the uniform of the enemy, and most of that time he further provoked the home fans and hurt the team with outstanding hitting and fielding.
His first time back was a memorable occasion
At every appearance the Fenway Faithful gave him the “unwelcome” treatment, but nothing compared to the first time he showed up in a New York uniform. Although there was a smattering of applause, boos predominated and homemade signs were held aloft. Some were funny and clever, while others were downright vicious.
Here is a sampling of the most expressive:
JOHNNY IS A $ELLOUT
JOHNNY, YOU REALLY ARE AN IDIOT
JOHN, WE HARDLY KNEW YOU
ANYWHERE BUT THERE, JOHNNY
J.D. = BENEDICT ARNOLD
Some got personal, such as this four liner, which took note of his crew cut and cleanly shaved face:
Damon rejected the Red Sox a second time
Johnny had tried to make it up to Boston fans right after he signed with the Yankees by complimenting and thanking them in a full page ad in the Boston Globe. Apparently, it was little appreciated.
When his days in New York ended, he hooked on with Detroit. In 2010 the Tigers put him on waivers and he was claimed by, guess who, the Red Sox, to be a late season acquisition. However, he decided against returning to Boston and chose to remain with the Tigers, which many Boston fans considered to be another slap in the face.
Damon will test the waters of the fickle fans
With Manny now a member of the Cubs’ organization, it remains for just Damon to be the one for Red Sox fans to show whether they still resent him or will pardon him. Boston is traditionally very tough in showing its loyalties to its past and present sports heroes.
Maybe the fans will forgive and forget the unpleasant departure of Johnny Damon. Right now, with the 2014 Red Sox in a severe funk, there is a lot more for them to be concerned about than what happened eight years ago.
Considering the passing years and the generational turn over in the population, some in the crowd Wednesday evening may not even be aware of the bad feelings Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez left behind. In view of the latest development in his career, it does not look as if Boston will have the opportunity to show if there are now better feelings toward Ramirez.
At least they could be big about it and welcome Johnny Damon, by showing they are willing to forgive and forget, and give him a rousing welcome.
After all, the Boston fans even showed forgiveness to Bill Buckner.