Paul O’Neill dropped his telephone. His spouse, Nevalee, teared up. They had been each surprised on the information that the Yankees had determined to retire his No. 21 jersey.
“Only a day I received’t ever neglect,” O’Neill stated Wednesday.
O’Neill, now an sport analyst for YES Community who spent 9 seasons in pinstripes, will develop into the twenty third Yankee to obtain the honour, on Aug. 21 in The Bronx. That group consists of former teammates he received 4 championships with: Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada.
“It’s the best honor that I’ve ever been given in baseball,” O’Neill, who was given his personal plaque in Monument Park in 2014, stated on a Zoom name. “I don’t actually know tips on how to clarify it. It’s on my thoughts all day, and it retains replaying over and over, simply how cool that is.
“To know that there’s a era of people that affiliate my title with that quantity to me could be very particular.”
A five-time All-Star and the 1994 AL batting champion, the 58-year-old O’Neill recalled what it was like when he first joined the Yankees in 1993 and visited Monument Park. He was in awe of the franchise’s historical past and the sport’s luminaries who had been as soon as Yankees. He by no means thought he could be a part of it in the future.
He grew to become a fan favourite after coming over from the Reds in a commerce, recognized for his intense demeanor, grinding at-bats and mood tantrums that exhibited his fireplace. He solely knew one method to play, incomes him the nickname “The Warrior” from late proprietor George Steinbrenner. In 9 seasons with the Yankees, he notched a .303/.377/.492 slash line with 185 homers and 858 RBIs in 1,254 regular-season video games.
Since he retired following the 2001 season, O’Neill’s No. 21 has been principally out of sight. It was given to pitcher LaTroy Hawkins in 2008 after the right-hander requested for it to pay homage to Roberto Clemente. It should by no means be worn once more by a Yankee.
“These are issues that you simply by no means dream about. While you’re taking part in the sport you don’t take into consideration this stuff,” he stated. “You concentrate on getting a success or hitting a house run. These sorts of issues go away. This, to me, now that I give it some thought, each single time I am going into Yankee Stadium and that quantity is up, it received’t go away.
“To search for and see a No. 21 meaning a lot to me, I can’t thank the Yankees sufficient.”