Major Leaguers Who Were Jeered, Cheered in Homecomings
June 19, 2010
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Manny Ramirez returned to Fenway Park for the first time since a three-way deadline trade in 2008 sent him to Los Angeles, ending his often tumultuous relationship with the Red Sox after parts of eight seasons. In the lineup at designated hitter, Ramirez went 1-for-5 with a sixth-inning single that brought out the boos from Boston fans still smarting over the Lakers' victory over the Celtics in Game 7 of the NBA finals the night before. David Ortiz, who hugged Manny before the game, hit his 274th homer for the Red Sox to move alongside his former teammate for fifth on Boston's all-time home run list. Here's a look at how other stars have been received and have fared in their "homecomings" over the years...
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Matsui received his World Series ring and a rousing ovation from the Yankee Stadium faithful, in his comeback with the Angels. With fans cheering him on for his six-RBI performance in the Yankees' Series-clinching win in November 2009, Matsui exchanged hugs with his former Yankee teammates.
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Though Hoffman's signature entrance song "Hells Bells" didn't blare out of the public address system as he entered the game in a different uniform with the Brewers, Padres fans gave Hoffman a warm welcome in his return to the city in which he had 552 saves in 16 seasons. Hoffman retired the side with little trouble, striking out two.
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After more than four seasons away from the place he called home for almost nine seasons, Garciaparra returned to Fenway Park in an Oakland A's uniform. The Fenway Park crowd was giddy even as Garciaparra took batting practice, and when he stepped up to the plate, the crowd erupted in more than a minute of adoration. Garciaparra stepped out of the box and tipped his cap to the adoring crowd. In the 2009 offseason, he signed a one-day contract to retire a Red Sox.
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Though Sabathia was booed at a Cavaliers playoff game two nights earlier by Cleveland fans, they were more subdued when he took the mound against his former team. Sabathia pitched seven innings and struck out eight in a Yankees win.
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Even seeing Edmonds in a hated Cubs uniform couldn't dampen Cardinal fans' memories of their former star centerfielder, although Cardinals manager Tony La Russa felt a bit differently. Before the game, La Russa said he'd ignore Edmonds rather than applauding or jeering him. Edmonds said he avoided speaking with his former manager before the game.
7 of 23Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images
Jones received a standing ovation in his first at-bat back at Turner Field since his free-agent departure to Los Angeles. But as the game progressed, the cheers turned into boos each time Jones came back up to the plate. Jones didn't appreciate the booing but shrugged it off after the game. "If they don't boo you, they don't care about you," he said.
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In his new Angels uniform, Hunter was parked in his usual centerfield spot on Opening Day at the Metrodome. After leaving for greener pastures with the Angels, he was booed in the bottom of the first inning as he made two putouts in center. Then, he watched his replacement on the Twins, Carlos Gomez, score the go-ahead run in the fifth. To top it off, he ended the game in the batter's box against former teammate Joe Nathan. Getting a first taste of Nathan's slider, Hunter struck out to end the game.
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Ken Griffey Jr.
Seven and a half years after a trade to Cincinnati ended an era in Seattle, Griffey returned to the Safeco Field he helped build by becoming the face of the Mariners in the '90s. There was a video montage played before the game of the best moments in his Seattle career, ending with his trademark smile after scoring the winning run of the 1995 ALDS against the Yankees. As he stepped up to bat, the fans stood and cheered for nearly three minutes.
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Oakland fans weren't as ruthless to Zito in his return as they were with Giambi, even after Zito signed what was then the most lucrative free agent contract for a pitcher in major league history. With Zito struggling, A's fans could only cheer as they watched their team dispatch of the Giants 15-3. Zito threw 38 pitches in the first inning and only lasted four innings, giving up seven runs and walking a career-high seven.
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The cheers flowed throughout the night for one of the Mets' all-time greatest catchers when he returned with the Padres. In his first at-bat, Piazza waved his batting helmet in salute of the cheering fans. "That's how you treat heroes," Mets manager Willie Randolph said of the crowd.
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Martinez didn't last long in his homecoming party to Fenway, where the crowd welcomed him with chants of, "Pedro! Pedro!" as he warmed up before the first inning. He gave up four runs that inning and four more in the third, lasting only three innings. After the game, he said the reception from the crowd was one of the "best moments" of his life.
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Returning to the park in which he hit 261 home runs as a White Sox, Thomas picked right up where he left off, smashing two homers in the A's 5-4 loss to Chicago. The crowd gave Thomas a standing ovation before his first at-bat. After the game, Thomas said his return was "bittersweet."
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For Indians fans, not even three years could heal the sting of losing one of their best homegrown stars of the '90s. Feeling he had a better chance to win with the Phillies, Thome scurried out of Cleveland and joined Philadelphia after the 2002 season. He didn't get a chance to return to Jacobs Field until 2006 with the White Sox. Thome summed the night up best after the game: "It was just a night of booing. That's all it was."
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Perhaps no other player better symbolized the "bunch of idiots" that led Boston to its first world championship in 86 years than Damon. After joining the Yankees in the 2005 offseason, Damon came back to Fenway rid of the look that had earned him the endearing title of a "caveman" during his stay in Boston. Though the booing seemed to overpower the cheers, Damon heard enough support mixed in to tip his cap to the crowd in his first at-bat.
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Franco, who spent 14 seasons as one of the Mets' most dependable bullpen options, received a mixed bag of reactions from the crowd. They cheered him in pregame introductions but mixed in more jeers when he entered the game in the seventh inning. Franco only faced one batter -- Cliff Floyd -- and gave up a two-run single in the Astros' loss.
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After a turbulent relationship with the Giants and former teammate Barry Bonds, Kent returned to San Francisco in an Astros uniform during the 2004 season. He was booed each time he stepped into the batter's box, finishing 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
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After spurning the A's to sign a lucrative deal with the Yankees, Giambi and his new team returned to Oakland quickly in the 2002 season. As fans booed him loudly throughout the game and held up signs with phrases like "Benedict Giambi," he had two hits and a run scored in New York's 2-1 victory.
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Fresh off signing the richest contract in baseball history with a division rival in Texas, Alex Rodriguez didn't get the warmest welcome from Mariner fans two weeks into the 2001 season. Fans showered him with boos and threw fake money onto the field. But after the game, Rodriguez seemed to be in denial. "I don't think they're booing me, really," he said. "I think they're booing the uniform."
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Even in Seattle's new Safeco Park, Johnson felt right at home when he returned to the city in which he spent nine seasons. Then with the Diamondbacks, Johnson received an ovation as he walked out to Safeco Field's mound, and he was dominant on the rubber as well. He pitched an eight-hit, complete-game shutout, striking out 10 Mariners.
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Red Sox fans booed Mo Vaughn during the middle of the 1998 season when he declared he had no intention of re-signing with Boston after the season. But when he came back to Fenway, the fans gave him a standing ovation in his first at-bat. He was a strikeout victim twice in a game that saw Pedro Martinez fan 15.
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Clemens felt he had something to prove in the 1997 season after former Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette made little effort to re-sign him the previous offseason, saying Clemens was in the "twilight" of his career. His return to Fenway with the Blue Jays was just one example of many in the season that displayed he wasn't finished. He struck out 16 Sox (a Blue Jays record) and pitched eight innings in a 3-1 Toronto victory, at times appearing to glare into the owner's box, where he thought Duquette was sitting.
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Pirates fans were among the first to embrace the concept of throwing fake money onto the field after a bad breakup with one of their former stars. Bonds left Pittsburgh after an MVP season in 1992 for a then-record contract with the Giants. The crowd booed mercilessly throughout, but Bonds didn't seem to mind: he went 2-for-4 with a double, triple and three runs scored.
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