Jun 12, 2015

Mid Nineties Mets Outfielder Damon Buford (1995) & His MLB Dad- 1969 Orioles Outfielder: Don Buford

Damon Jackson Buford was born on June 12, 1970 in Baltimore Maryland. He is the son of former Baltimore Oriole Don Buford who was just coming off the 1969 World Series loss to the New York Mets when his son was born.

Don Alvin Buford was born on February 2, 1937 in Linden Texas, later moving to the Los Angeles area. He attended USC & played for the USC Trojans as an outfielder, signing with the Chicago White Sox in 1959.

He played for the Chicago White Sox (1963- 1968) as a team mate of ’69 Mets; Tommie Agee, Al Weis & J.C. Martin. The speedy Buford stole 51 bases in 1966, second only to the A's Bert Campaneris. That season he led the league in sac hits (17) & although he batted only .244 he hit 26 doubles, posting a .323 on base%.

In 1967 he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles as part of the deal that sent Hall of Fame shortstop, Luis Aparacio to Chicago. In Baltimore, Buford switched from playing infield to becoming a full time outfielder with the O's. Baltimore had Brooks Robinson at third base, Mark Belanger at short & Davey Johnson at second base.

Buford was part of three straight Orioles World Series teams (1969-1971). They lost to the New York Mets in 1979, beat the Cincinnati Reds in 1970 & then lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1971 in seven games.

In 1969 he batted a career high .291 with 11 HRs 19 stolen bases & a .397 on base %. That season he scored 99 runs for the first of three straight seasons as well as leading the league in caught stealing for the third time.

It was Buford who led off the 1969 World Series with a HR off Tom Seaver & as he rounded the bases told Bud Harrelson “You ain’t seen nothing yet”. Harrelson later said “First game, first pitch, you ain’t seen nothing yet either”.

Buford played for Baltimore from 1968-1972, in his ten year career Don Buford batted .264 with 1203 hits 93 HRs 157 doubles 44 triples 200 stolen bases a .362 on base % & 418 RBIs. Don moved on to play in Japan where he earned the nickname "the greatest leadoff man in the world "as well as winning two best Nine Awards.

Retirement: After his playing career Don Buford was a coach with his old Oriole's team mate Frank Robinson, who managed  with the Orioles, San Francisco Giants & Washington Nationals.

Damon Buford also attended USC playing for the Trojans, as a team mate with future MLB players Bret Boone & Jeff Cirillo. Buford was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the tenth round of the 1990 draft.

He got to the majors in 1993 as a backup outfielder on the Baltimore Orioles batting just .228 in 54 games. He played behind Brady Anderson, Mike Devereaux & Mark McLemore in the new Camden Yards ballpark, where his dad was also the teams coach. He said it was just like being in little league all over again. He spent most of 1994 at AAA batting .270 then hitting .309 to start off the 1995 season.

In Baltimore he struggled again batting just .063 in 24 games before getting traded to the New York Mets along with Alex Ochoa in June 1995 for Bobby Bonilla.

Damon debuted wearing the uniform #2 getting a base hit on July 29th, 1995 at Shea Stadium in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He would have a four game hit streak then hit his first Mets HR on August 11th at the Astrodome in Houston. In the first two weeks of September he got hot getting 17 hits raising his average up to the .200 mark. 

Buford hit three HRs with 9 RBIs in that stretch, including a two HR day at Shea Stadium against the Houston Astros on September 13th. Buford played in 44 games for the ’95 Mets batting .235 with 4 HRs 5 doubles 12 RBIs & seven stolen bases.

That January he was traded to the Texas Rangers for Terrel Lowrey who never played a game for the Mets. Buford spent two years in Texas, he batted batting . 283 in 1996 but when he got the full time role in 1997 he fell off to a .224 average. He was traded to the Boston Red Sox playing there for two seasons as a reserve outfielder, getting to two post seasons there.

He was traded to the Chicago Cubs in December 1999 for Manny Alexander. In 2000 he was the Cubs main centerfielder hitting a career high 15 HRs with 48 RBIs while batting .251.

In his nine year career, he batted .242 with 448 hits, 86 doubles 9 triples 54 HRs 56 stolen bases a .311 on base% & 218 RBIs. Buford was a fine defensive outfielder posting a career .990% in center (24th all time) making 28 assists with 1255 put outs in 624 outfield games.

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