Yankees to retire five-time All-Star Paul O’Neill’s No. 21 in August
One of the main faces of the Bronx Bombers during their dynasty in the late 1990s and early 2000s is having his number immortalized in Monument Park this summer.
O’Neill was selected in the fourth round of the 1981 MLB June Amateur Draft by the Cincinnati Reds and eventually made his big-league debut in 1985. After getting his feet wet for a few seasons, the outfielder played in his first full campaign in 1988, appearing in 145 games while hitting 16 home runs and collecting 73 RBI.
The now-58-year-old hit 15 more home runs and registered 74 RBI in 1989, before helping the Reds win the World Series in 1990 by finishing the regular season with 16 home runs and 78 RBI and going 8-for-17 with one home run, three doubles and four RBI in the NLCS against the Pittsburgh Pirates. O’Neill made his first All-Star team in 1991 and finished the campaign with a career-high 28 home runs. He played his final season with the Reds in 1992, before being traded to the New York Yankees.
The lefty’s career took off once he joined the Yankees, as he went on to post at least a .300 batting average in six straight years from 1993 to 1998, including an American League-high .359 in 1994. O’Neill also made four All-Star teams in five seasons from 1994 to 1998 and alongside the likes of Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Tino Martinez, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera, among others, helped lead the Yankees to World Series titles in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000.
As noted by USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, O’Neill will be the 23rd player or manager in Yankees franchise history to have his uniform retired. Furthermore, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand tweeted that there are now only 10 active numbers between 1 and 25 that haven’t been retired by the Yankees.
In 2,053 career regular-season games, O’Neill recorded 281 home runs, 1,269 RBI, 2,105 hits, 1,041 hits, 451 doubles, 141 stolen bases and a .288/.363/.470 slash line.
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