It was jarring to see a baby-faced Johnny Damon. The ringleader of the Red Sox’ beloved “Idiots” sold his soul, and long hair, to the Yankees for an extra $12 million.
Soon, a different kind of Damon shirt was sold around Fenway Park: “Johnny Damon: Looks like Jesus. Acts like Judas.”
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But as it turns out, Damon kept his long hair. He just moved it from his head to beneath his bathroom sink.
Damon sat down for a recent interview with the Globe in anticipation of his upcoming appearance at the Sports Museum’s annual gala Dec. 7 at TD Garden. The two-time World Series champ will receive the Baseball Legacy award.
A big part of Damon’s baseball legacy in Boston revolves around his hair.
“I still have it,” he said. “It’s, like, just sitting underneath my bathroom sink. It’s just a glob of mess.”
Damon, who’s back to sporting long hair today, says he likes his “Red Sox look a lot better.”
Damon says he was recruited to New York by David Wells, his then-Red Sox teammate and long-time Yankee. “He said, ‘If you ever have the opportunity to put on the pinstripes, do it. They will take care of you forever,” recalled Damon. “And they’ve been taking great care of me. It’s insane.”
When Damon signed his four-year, $52 million deal with the Yankees in December 2005, critics pointed to his previous declaration that he could never put on the pinstripes. But Damon insists that quote was taken out of context.
“What I said was, I will not go to the Yankees unless there’s disrespect coming from the Red Sox,” he said. “And I felt the disrespect was when I told the Red Sox I had an offer from someone. I didn’t tell them I had it from the Yankees.”
Damon says the Red Sox told him he was bluffing. Obviously, he wasn’t.
But tension over contract negotiations fade with time. Hair is forever.