Newsday’s Jim Baumbach on Thailand’s efforts to garner some quality time with Johnny Damon.

The Prime Minister of Thailand was so interested in bringing Damon to his country during the winter to run baseball clinics for youngsters that he met with Damon’s mother in Washington, D.C., last September for an expensive dinner at a Thai restaurant.

“She was definitely very excited,” Johnny said.

His mother, Yome, is from Thailand and met Johnny’s father, Jimmy, while he was serving there in the Army during the Vietnam War. She jumped at the chance to dine with Thailand’s prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra (above), and was sold by his pitch.

“In my country, they don’t know baseball,” Yome said in a telephone interview yesterday. “They want him to go to my country and show the kids how to play the game.”

Johnny was interested. He’s only been to Thailand twice, when he was six months old and 2 years old and too young to remember. He has only seen pictures, and would love to go back. He also is intrigued with the possibility of helping the sport grow in Thailand.

“That’s definitely something I want to be a part of,” he said.

Good luck to all parties concerned, but if Thailand and Vietnam ever meet in a future WBC contest, my money’s on the former.