The Baseball Writers Association of American released its 2018 Hall of Fame Ballot on Monday, and former Royals outfielder Johnny Damon was on it in his first year of eligibility.
The full ballot includes fellow newcomers Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel, Jamie Moyer and Johan Santana. Results of the election will be announced Jan. 24 on MLB Network.
In 803 games spanning six seasons in Kansas City, Damon hit .292 with 65 home runs and 352 RBIs. He also stole 156 bases, with his season high of 46 coming in 2000, his final year in a Royals uniform. He led the league in stolen bases and runs scored (136) that year.
Before Whit Merrifield stole a league-best 34 bases in 2017, Damon was the last Royal to lead the American League in the category.
After saying he didn’t want to continue his career in Kansas City, Damon played for the Athletics (2001), Red Sox (2002-05), Yankees (2006-09), Tigers (2010), Rays (2011) and Indians (2012). He finished in the top 20 in MVP voting four times, was an All-Star twice and won a World Series with the Red Sox (2004) and Yankees (2009). In 59 postseason games, Damon hit .276 with 12 doubles, 10 homers and 33 RBIs.
Damon, who was born in Fort Riley, Kan., was drafted by the Royals out of his Orlando high school in 1992. He debuted at the end of the 1995 season.
Damon played the last game of his major-league career on Aug. 1, 2012. It was a Royals win over the Indians at Kauffman Stadium. Damon made the last out in the top of the ninth inning.
In February, he told 610 Sports Radio that he would wear a Royals cap if he’s ever elected to the Hall of Fame. George Brett, who was inducted in 1999, is the only Royals player in the Hall.
In 18 seasons, Damon collected 1,139 RBIs, slashed .284/.352/.433 and stole 408 bases. His 1,668 runs scored rank 32nd in baseball history. Among left-handed hitters, he ranks 27th with 2,769 hits and 21st with 522 doubles.
From 1996-2011, Damon played an average of 149 games per year. He never won a Gold Glove.
When asked by The New York Times about his Hall of Fame chances in 2012, he said he deserved a spot.
“I think even if you look at my numbers now, how high I am on the runs list, how high I am on the doubles list, and you also have to take into account the ballparks that I’ve played in,” Damon said. “I’ve played in some pretty tough ones for left-handers. If I played in Yankee Stadium my whole career, my 230 home runs turn into 300, easy.”
Damon couldn’t secure a contract in 2013 or 2014, but continued to tell reporters he would return to a big-league field if asked. Even in December 2014, two years after his last game, agent Scott Boras told The Boston Globe that Damon would “love to come back.”
2018 Hall of Fame ballot
Writers can vote for up to 10 players. 75 percent needed for election. Players remain on the ballot for up to 10 years, provided they receive at least 5 percent of the vote annually.
Returning players (last year’s share of votes received): Trevor Hoffman (74 percent), Vladimir Guerrero (71.7), Edgar Martinez (58.6), Roger Clemens (54.1), Barry Bonds (53.8), Mike Mussina (51.8), Curt Schilling (45), Manny Ramirez (23.8), Larry Walker (21.9), Fred McGriff (21.7), Jeff Kent (16.7), Gary Sheffield (13.3), Billy Wagner (10.2) and Sammy Sosa (8.6).
First-year players: Chris Carpenter, Johnny Damon, Livan Hernandez, Orlando Hudson, Aubrey Huff, Jason Isringhausen, Andruw Jones, Chipper Jones, Carlos Lee, Brad Lidge, Hideki Matsui, Kevin Millwood, Jamie Moyer, Scott Rolen, Johan Santana, Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel, Kerry Wood, Carlos Zambrano.