Damon thanks Red Sox fans in newspaper ad

BOSTON -- Johnny Damon is trying to mend fences with Red Sox fans.

The former Boston center fielder, who defected to the rival New York Yankees in December, took out a full-page newspaper advertisement in The Boston Globe sports section Wednesday thanking fans.

"Many thanks to the great fans of New England and the city of Boston. It was a privilege and an honor," the ad said.

The message, written as a letter with Damon's signature at the end, is superimposed over a photo of him in action.

Damon incurred the wrath of legions of Red Sox loyalists in December when he signed a $52 million, four-year contract with the Yankees. A two-time All-Star, in 2004 Damon helped the Red Sox win their first World Series title since 1918.

His appeal extended beyond his hitting and fielding. Damon's long locks and facial hair earned him a cult-like following in Boston, where he helped symbolize the free-spirited team that dubbed itself the "Idiots."