Buford's fan club begins with proud mom


For public viewing, Alescia Buford keeps her pride over her TC son Damon's remarkable first week in the big leagues hidden, allowing only a tiny smile last night when he made a nice running catch in left-center field.

But all you need to do to get her talking about her baby boy is to ask, "Are you Damon's mother?"

Then, the pride rushes out like so much water over the banks of a swollen river.

"This has got to be one of the absolute greatest things to happen in my life," she said last night from her seat just behind home plate. "We are all so happy."

And why not? After all, how many moms can point to their kid and say he's a major-league baseball player?

Damon said: "My mom is my best coach right now. She's told me about life in general, to stay positive, to stay upbeat and not dwell on the negative. There will be a lot of negative things happening out there, but I should take them in stride."

In fact, there aren't many moms whose sons have had the kind of first week that Damon's had.

Buford, who replaced the injured Mike Devereaux on the roster, hit .421 in his first six games, with two homers and six RBI in 19 at-bats. Even an 0-for-3 last night left him hitting a hefty.364

Only Andres Mora is believed to have hit two home runs in his first week as an Oriole in 1976, but Mora's .231 average in that first week doesn't compare to that of Buford, who came up from Triple-A Rochester known more for his defense than his offense.

Damon said: "I think it [the hitting] is a big surprise. No one expected it. I really came up here to play defense and run the bases and anything in the batter's box would be a plus. Right now, it's just icing on the cake."

Right now, it's more than icing for the Buford family. Damon's father, Don, who manages the Bowie Baysox, has tried to be low-key, showing little emotion last Wednesday for instance when he watched his son draw a walk in his first game against the Minnesota Twins.

Damon said: "My mom's really excited. I think both my parents are really excited, but my dad has been around the game for so long, he knows how to play it low-key. It can be good one day, bad the next. He's going to keep it all not too high and not too low."

4 But Alescia Buford put the knock to that notion.

"It means a lot for me and for him [Don]. I know how he's got to feel. He [Don] is an only child and his father passed when he was young. Don said the other day when [Damon] got that double up the line, he jumped up and screamed until he realized he was in a hotel room alone," said Alescia.

And the feeling of joy is increased by the knowledge that Damon is playing for the same Orioles team that his father was the leadoff hitter for six years. Damon's older brother, Don Jr., played in the Orioles organization for three years from 1987 to '89 before leaving to pursue a medical degree at UCLA.

"The Orioles have been such a great organization. They care about you. We are so flattered that he is here," said Alescia, who works for a public relations firm in Los Angeles.

Now that Damon's here, there'll be no shortages of Bufords in Baltimore for the foreseeable future. Don Sr. will be sharing his apartment here with Damon, though they won't actually be roommates until next month, when the two of them will actually be in the same city at the same time.

And Don Jr. will be arriving later in the week to give his younger brother a few tips.

As for Alescia, well, let's just say that now that her son has made the big time, she'll be around for a while to watch.

"My plane was late [yesterday] in Tennessee. It had mechanical problems and I told the airline agent, 'You've got to get me out of here. I've got to see my son,' " she said.

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