New York Yankees to retire Paul O’Neill’s number

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 17: Former player Paul O'Neill of the New York Yankees is introduced during the New York Yankees 72nd Old Timers Day game before the Yankees play against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on June 17, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 17: Former player Paul O'Neill of the New York Yankees is introduced during the New York Yankees 72nd Old Timers Day game before the Yankees play against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on June 17, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images) /
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From the moment Paul O’Neill arrived in New York, it seemed as though he had been there forever. Acquired by the New York Yankees, along with a minor league first baseman, for Roberto Kelly, O’Neil quickly became a fan favorite and a key part of the lineup. He was one of the players that one pointed to as an example of the Yankee Way, exuding class and professionalism on the diamond.

Now, more than 20 years since O’Neill last set foot in the batter’s box, the Yankees are set to honor his career. He will be the 23rd player or manager in team history to have his number retired, his number 21 forever immortalized in Monument Park.

New York Yankees to honor Paul O’Neill

O’Neill is set to become the fifth player of the Yankees’ dynasty in the 1990s to be so honored. He will join Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, and Bernie Williams to be immortalized, along with manager Joe Torre.

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Interestingly, O’Neill was not the last player to wear that number for the Yankees. LaTroy Hawkins was issued number 21 during his brief stint in New York in 2008. The move was relatively controversial at the time, and became even more so when Hawkins struggled. After he was shipped to Houston, that number was unofficially retired.

O’Neill is certainly deserving of this honor. He was a four time All Star during his time in New York, winning four championships. O’Neill posted a .303/.377/.492 batting line in his nine years in New York, hitting 185 homers and 304 doubles.

He did not go easily into the night. O’Neill battled against age and injury, doing everything possible to will himself to perform as his body wore down. Even though it was a losing battle, he gave the Yankees everything he had left, leaving it all out on the diamond.

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The New York Yankees are finally set to retire number 21 for Paul O’Neill. It is an honor that has been long overdue.