eSports
Kieran Darcy, ESPN Staff Writer 80d

Johnny Damon finds post-baseball competition in virtual reality

NEW YORK -- Johnny Damon was back at Yankee Stadium on Friday, Sept. 15 -- not wearing pinstripes but competing nonetheless.

This wasn't baseball, though. Damon was playing Sparc, a new virtual-reality video game for Sony Playstation VR.

"I grew up playing video games," Damon said. "I have an arcade room at my house. But this is going to take up a lot of our time [now] and our kids' time. This is very cool."

Sparc is not your standard video game. It's billed as a "vSport," combining elements of tennis, fencing and boxing.

"It's a full-body workout, as you can tell by me sweating," Damon said.

These were not your standard opponents, either. Damon was competing against U.S. military personnel based overseas, arranged by Pro vs. GI Joe.

"They created some shot overseas that I could not defend," Damon said after one game, laughing. "So that was when I had a little bit of an issue, trying to block that point. But it's fun giving the servicemen and women thousands of miles away defending our country the opportunity to play against a former big leaguer. It's pretty cool."

Damon will turn 44 in November and last played in the major leagues in 2012.

"No, I don't," he said, when asked if he misses playing baseball. "The first year was definitely tough because I felt like I still had something to give. But it all worked out for me, with my great family, playing a lot of golf, staying a little bit in the spotlight. Life's been good."

Damon is planning to play more Sparc, and he is hoping to see more virtual-reality sports games in the future.

"Hopefully one day you can actually see if you can cover Odell Beckham or see if you can hit off a major league pitcher," Damon said. "That's where virtual reality is going, and everyone's going to have that opportunity to see what it's like to be a big leaguer."

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