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Monday, October 6, 2003
Updated: October 7, 5:44 PM ET
Damon hospitalized after outfield collision

Associated Press

OAKLAND, Calif. -- A frightening collision left Boston Red Sox center fielder Johnny Damon hospitalized overnight.

Damian Jackson and Johnny Damon
Red Sox Damian Jackson and Johnny Damon lay on the field for minutes after the big bang.

Damon was knocked unconscious for several minutes and carried off on a stretcher after banging heads with second baseman Damian Jackson while chasing a popup Monday night in Boston's 4-3 victory over Oakland in the decisive fifth game of the AL Division Series.

The outfielder is officially listed as doubtful for Game 1 of the AL Championship Series against the Yankees.

Jackson said he "felt a loud bang and my ears were ringing for a bit." He was taken away from Damon by teammates while doctors and trainers attended to the prone outfielder.

"I wanted to see how he was doing, I wanted to hold his hand, I wanted to go back there and tell him little boy stuff like keep your head up," Jackson said. "It was totally scary. This guy is lying there unconscious, this is not the way it's supposed to go down."

Damon was on the ground for nine minutes before being taken off the field in an ambulance. He had a "significant concussion," but was alert and awake when he was taken to Highland Hospital, Red Sox team doctor William Morgan said.

Damon waved with his right hand as he entered the ambulance, which had driven onto the field. Fans responded with cheers for the former Oakland player.

"When I got there, he was knocked out, he was breathing kind of heavy. I guarantee you those situations are scary," right fielder Trot Nixon said. "I said a prayer for Johnny and said the Lord was with him. In those kinds of situations, it makes this game real small."

Nixon said the Red Sox, who flew to New York right after the game to begin the ALCS against the Yankees on Wednesday night, saved a bottle of champagne for Damon.

"We're going to the ALCS, but it's not quite the same without Johnny here," Nixon said.

It was not clear when Damon will be able to rejoin the team. A CT scan and X-rays of Damon's neck showed no damage. Morgan said Damon was kept overnight at the hospital for observation.

Jackson also was on the ground for several minutes after the collision on a popup by Oakland's Jermaine Dye in the seventh inning. Jackson said after the game he was fine, except for a cut on his right forehead.

As Jackson walked off the field and neared the dugout, several Red Sox players had to be restrained after having words with hecklers in the stands.

Jackson, who had entered as a defensive replacement two batters earlier, got his glove on the ball, but it was knocked loose by the force of the collision.

Shortstop Nomar Garciaparra picked up the ball in short center field and threw out Dye at second base.