Paul O'Neill
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Paul O'Neill
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  • Teamwork
  • Motivation
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  • Bio Info:

    Retired baseball star, Paul O'Neill, was born February 25, 1963 in Columbus, Ohio. Paul O'Neill played right field won five World Series while playing for the Cincinnati Reds (1985-1992)and the New York Yankees (1993-2001). In a 17 year career, O'Neill compiled a lifetime batting average of .288, 281 home runs, 1,269 runs batted in, and 2,105 hits. O'Neill won the American League batting title in 1994 with a .359 average. 

    A Columbus, Ohio native and Brookhaven High School graduate, O'Neill and his family were fans of the Reds. On a visit to the Reds' Crosley Field shortly before it closed, six-year-old Paul had his picture taken wearing a Reds batting helmet and holding a toy bat. Over his shoulder could be seen Roberto Clemente of the opposing Pittsburgh Pirates. Like Clemente, O'Neill would become a right fielder and wear uniform number 21.

    Paul O'Neill made his major-league debut on September 3, 1985, and singled in his first at-bat. In a 1989 game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Veterans Stadium, O'Neill fielded a base hit, couldn't hold onto it, and kicked it, left-footed, back to the infield, to prevent baserunner Steve Jeltz from scoring. Jeltz scored on a wild pitch anyway, but the incident is remembered as one of the all-time baseball "bloopers." A broadcaster quipped: "The Cincinnati Bengals are on the phone!" In 1990 O'Neill was a member of the Reds' World Series winning team. He also played in the Puerto Rico's winter league with the San Juan Metros and the Mayaguez Indians from 1985 to 1986.

    On November 3, 1992, the Reds traded O'Neill to the Yankees for Roberto Kelly. In 1994, with O'Neill winning the batting title, the Yankees led the East division by six and a half games when a players' strike ended the season. The next season, the Yankees made the playoffs, and did so in every season for the remainder of O'Neill's career. He was an integral member of the New York Yankees' last dynasty, helping them to win the World Series in 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000. He ended Game 5 of the 1996 World Series by robbing Luis Polonia of the Atlanta Braves of an extra-base hit, preserving a 1–0 victory for the Yankees.

    O'Neill famously was his own worst critic, seemingly never satisfied with his own performance and known for his emotion on the field; when disappointed with his performance or angry with an umpire's decision he would attack water coolers or toss bats on the field. His tirades were both praised and criticized by the media and fans.

    O'Neill is fondly remembered by Yankee fans as the "heart and soul" of the team's dynasty in the 1990s. Yankee owner George Steinbrenner also labeled him as a "Warrior". He was given this nick-name due to his passion and love for the game.

    In Game 5 of the 2001 World Series, Paul O'Neill received an emotional sendoff from New York fans. While standing in right field in the 9th inning with the Yankees down 2–0, the entire stadium chanted his name. When the inning ended, O'Neill was still being cheered. With tears in his eyes, he tipped his cap, and another roar went up from the crowd at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees won the game 3-2, but lost the series 4 games to 3. Since his retirement after the 2001 World Series, his number 21 has not been worn by any Yankee player, leading to speculation that it will be officially retired. Yankees relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins briefly wore the number in the 2008 season but, on April 16, 2008, Hawkins switched to number 22 in response to the criticism he received by many Yankee fans, all the more suggesting that number 21 may one day be retired for O'Neill.

    Starting after his retirement from baseball in 2001, O'Neill now serves as an analyst on the New York Yankees Pre-Game Show and the New York Yankees Post-Game Show, as well as a color commentator for the YES Network.



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