As we now know, the Cleveland Indians took a brief look at Johnny Damon as a potential solution to their hole in left field. Ultimately, the Indians decided against offering Damon a contract and will attempt to fill the hole some other way.
I can’t help but feel as if the Indians missed a golden opportunity by not signing Damon. Wait, let me clarify: The Indians missed a golden opportunity off the field by not signing Damon.
He’s had a long and memorable career with stops in a number of different cities along the way. During his time in the big leagues he’s become just as known for his antics and appearance as for his play on the field. Can you imagine the Damon-centric promotions Progressive Field could have put on had the Indians sign him? Well I can. So, without further adieu, here are five Johnny Damon promotions that might have been.
1. The Johnny Damon Turn Back the Clock Night: Johnny Damon made his major league debut on August 12, 1995. That was almost 17 years ago. A lot have crazy things have happened between then and now: the birth of the Internet, the development of cell phones, and, most importantly, advancements in sabermetrics. What better way to celebrate such a long career by remembering everything that happened back in 1995 when it all began. On August 12, 2012, he Indians could wear their original Jacobs Field-era uniforms, Seal’s “Kiss From a Rose” could play in between innings, and we can all remember when gas cost $1.09 per gallon. Those were the days.
2. Judas Priest Night: Hear me out on this one. The most well known traitor in the history of the world is probably Judas Iscariot, the man who betrayed Jesus Christ. Johnny Damon betrayed all of Red Sox Nation by declaring “There’s no way I can go play for the Yankees”…and then jumping ship to New York after the 2005 season. Why not dedicate a night to Judas Priest, a band named after the most infamous traitor in history, to indirectly honor Damon, the second-most famous traitor in history? (Sorry, Benedict Arnold.) Besides, the sight of Shin-Soo Choo walking up the plate wearing spiked leather wrist bands while “Painkiller” blares over the sound system would be priceless. Stock up on your studded leather now, kids.
3. Captain Caveman Night: Yes, this one is blatantly obvious, but how could the Indians not do this for one of their Sunday Kids Fun Days? The first 10,000 kids through the gates could get an official Johnny Damon Captain Caveman wiffle
club bat. Any adult brave enough to show up wearing a fake beard and long wig could get a half-price ticket. People with real long hair and a real beard gets the same deal, plus half-price concessions. And yes, I realize it’s been years since Damon has sported his Captain Caveman look, but it’s still iconic and this would be too much fun.
4. Johnny Damon “Idiot of the Month” Club: Johnny Damon was an integral part of the self-proclaimed “Idiot” clubhouse when he was in Boston—it was a term of endearment, not an insult. Each month, a random drawing would be held at Progressive Field and at the team shops. The winner and a friend would get a private tour of Progressive Field with Damon, spend some time in the clubhouse on game day, get autographs and photos taken, present the lineup card to the umpire, and maybe even be on the field or take part in batting practice. The ultimate reward, throwing out the first pitch of that night’s game. I’d kill for a chance at a prize like that.
5. Johnny Damon Mystery Bobblehead Night: This will be Damon’s 17th MLB season. In that time he’s played for six different teams—unless he signs with the Royals, Athletics, Red Sox, Yankees, Tigers, or Rays, he’ll suit up for his seventh club in 2012—and had numerous memorable moments for each and every franchise along the way. The Indians could have created seven different bobbleheads, one for each team he’s played for depicting a memorable moment from his time with that club. Every person walking through the gate would receive one in an unmarked box—thus the mystery. Imagine the surprising of receiving Johnny Damon stealing a base in a Royals uniform, or hitting that Game Seven grand slam versus New York when he was with Boston. It would also make completing the set a very difficult task…at least until they all show up on eBay.