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Damon joins former Sox trio on '18 HOF ballot

Member of curse-breaking 2004 club eligible with Clemens, Schilling, Ramirez
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- Johnny Damon, one of the signature faces of the fabled 2004 Red Sox team that broke an 86-year championship drought, is on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time.

Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling and Manny Ramirez are still on the ballot, and two other players who had short stints for the Sox (Billy Wagner and Jamie Moyer) are also up for election to Cooperstown.

BOSTON -- Johnny Damon, one of the signature faces of the fabled 2004 Red Sox team that broke an 86-year championship drought, is on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time.

Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling and Manny Ramirez are still on the ballot, and two other players who had short stints for the Sox (Billy Wagner and Jamie Moyer) are also up for election to Cooperstown.

This is Wagner's third year on the ballot, and it is the first for Moyer. 

• Complete Hall of Fame coverage

A player can be on the ballot for up to 10 years, but must receive at least five percent of the votes from participating Baseball Writers' Association of America members to stay on the ballot. To gain election to the Hall of Fame, a player needs to get 75 percent of the ballots cast.

The results of the election will be announced on Jan. 24 at 6 p.m. ET on MLB Network.

Though Damon's stint with the Red Sox was relatively short (2002-05), it was highly memorable. The left-handed-hitting center fielder is the one who offhandedly said at a news conference early in the '04 postseason that the bearded and long-haired Red Sox were "just a bunch of idiots."

Helped by Damon's looseness -- and his two-homer, seven-RBI barrage in Game 7 of the 2004 American League Championship Series -- those Red Sox became the first team in history to come back from a 3-0 deficit in a postseason series. They went on to sweep the Cardinals in four games in the World Series.

Video: Damon on winning a World Series with the Red Sox

A leadoff hitter for most of his career, Damon had 2,769 hits and slashed .284/.352/.433. He compiled 235 homers, 109 triples, 1,139 RBIs and 408 stolen bases while playing for the Royals, Athletics, Red Sox, Yankees, Tigers, Rays and Indians.

Clemens, who won the first three of his seven Cy Young Awards with the Red Sox, has all the statistical credentials to be in the Hall of Fame. However, like many players of his era, his candidacy has been hurt by allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs.

Dubbed the "Rocket Man" by teammate Bruce Hurst early in his time with the Red Sox, Clemens went 354-184 with a 3.12 ERA and 4,672 strikeouts over his career. Clemens set a Major League record of 20 strikeouts while pitching for the Red Sox against Seattle on April 29, 1986, and then tied his own record a decade later in what wound up to be his final win for Boston at Tiger Stadium. Last year, Clemens appeared on 54.1 percent of the ballots.

Schilling, who became an icon in Boston after pitching with his infamous bloody sock in the 2004 ALCS, played in the World Series four times for three different teams. The big righty teamed with Randy Johnson to beat the Yankees in a classic Game 7 of the '01 World Series. He won with Boston in '04 and '07 and was a big part of the lovable '93 Phillies team that lost to the Blue Jays in six games in the World Series.

Video: Schilling capped career with two titles in Boston

If you want the definition of a big-game pitcher, look no further than Schilling. His postseason numbers (11-2, 2.23 ERA in 19 starts) could one day turn his bubble candidacy into an election into the Hall of Fame. Schilling appeared on 45 percent of ballots last year. He appeared on 52.3 percent of ballots in 2015. It is Schilling's sixth year of eligibility.

Schilling also did plenty of impressive things in the regular season, going 216-146 with a 3.46 ERA and 3,116 strikeouts.

The entertaining Ramirez, known for his Manny-being-Manny antics, was one of the best right-handed hitters of his era. Ramirez teamed with Damon, Schilling and others to help Boston's 2004 team win it all, and he also played a big role for the '07 World Series champion Red Sox.

Video: The guys debate whether Ramirez is HOF worthy

Ramirez was suspended twice for failing PED tests, which explains why a hitter with such gaudy statistics appeared on only 23.8 percent of the ballots last year in his first year of eligibility.

In 2,302 games for the Indians, Red Sox (2001-08), Dodgers, White Sox and Rays, Ramirez slashed .312/.411/.585 with 555 homers and 1,831 RBIs.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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