Paul Andrew O'Neill (born February 25, 1963 in Columbus, Ohio) is a former right fielder and Major League Baseball player who won five World Series while playing for the Cincinnati Reds (1985-1992) and 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 2,107 hits. O'Neill won the American League batting title in 1994 with a .359 average, and was also a five-time All-Star, playing in 1991, 1994, 1995, 1997, and 1998.
Paul O'Neill is the only player to have played on the winning team in three perfect games. He was on the field for the Cincinnati Reds for Tom Browning's in 1988. He caught the final out (a fly ball) in David Wells' perfect game in 1998, and he made a diving catch in right field and doubled to help the Yankees win during David Cone's perfect game in 1999.
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. His older sister is Molly O'Neill, a noted chef and cookbook author who was a food writer for the New York Times in the year 2000.
Cincinnati RedsEditO'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.
New York YankeesEditOn 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 for the first time in 14 years 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 former Yankee teammate Luis Polonia of the Atlanta Braves of an extra-base hit, preserving a 1–0 victory for the Yankees. O'Neill played Game 4 of the 1999 World Series just hours after his father died. The Yankees won the game and swept the Braves to win their 25th World Series Championship.
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 nickname due to his passion and love for the game.
In Game 5 of the 2001 World Series, O'Neill received a 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.
In 1995, while still a player for the Yankees, O'Neill was featured in a cameo role on the NBC sitcom Seinfeld. In the episode entitled "The Wink," O'Neill is accosted by Cosmo Kramer in the Yankees' locker room and is told by Kramer that he must hit two home runs in the same game so that Kramer can retrieve a birthday card signed by all the Yankees from a little boy who wasn't supposed to get it in the first place. O'Neill angrily replies that this is very difficult and that he is not usually a home run hitter; he then asks Kramer, "How'd you get in here anyways?" In the ensuing game, O'Neill does hit two home runs, but one of them is an in-the-park home run and scored a triple due to the other team's error, so the little boy Kramer is trying to appease is not totally satisfied. Kramer manages to get the Yankee-signed birthday card back from the boy, but he has now promised the boy that O'Neill will catch a fly ball in his hat during the next game.
Upon O'Neill's retirement from baseball he has pursued a career in broadcasting.
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. O'Neill returned to Ohio to live with his family.
On July 7, 2009, Paul O'Neill was inducted into the Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame (18 W. 33rd St. inside Foley's NY Pub & Restaurant) in New York City along with longtime Los Angeles Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley, broadcaster Vin Scully, former player Steve Garvey, umpire Jim Joyce, and blind sports reporter Ed Lucas.
- Top 500 home run hitters of all time
- List of major league players with 2,000 hits
- List of Major League Baseball players with 400 doubles
- List of Major League Baseball players with 1000 runs
- List of Major League Baseball players with 1000 RBI
- List of Major League Baseball batting champions
- List of Major League Baseball hitters with three home runs in one game
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
- Official website
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|DATE OF BIRTH||February 25, 1963|
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