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Thread: Former Yankees batboy on Paul O'Neill

  1. #1
    You know his story Redsland's Avatar
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    Former Yankees batboy on Paul O'Neill

    I'm currently reading BatBoy; My True Life Adventures Coming of Age With the New York Yankees, by Matthew McGough.

    In it, Matt talks about his life as a 16-year-old batboy working in the House that Ruth Built. Stories like the time, back on Opening Day in 1992--on his first day on the job--that Don Mattingly himself hand-selected Matt for the important and urgent task of finding Donny Baseball a bat stretcher right away. Our wet-behind-the-ears go-getter dutifully bounced throughout the clubhouse from Danny Tartabull to Buck Showalter (interrupting the manager's pre-opening-day-game meeting with the assembled New York media, over to the visiting clubhouse, and ultimately out into the Bronx itself, fully bedecked in his pinstriped uniform, as Matt rushed upstream through the onrushing crowd in search of a particular sporting goods store.

    Anyway, as Matt embarks on his second and final season, he takes a few moments to reflect on some of the changes that have taken place over the off-season. Like this one involving a former Red.

    Enjoy.


    I knew little about the Yankees’ new outfielder, Paul O’Neill, who had been obtained from the Cincinnati Reds for Roberto Kelly, New York’s lone all-star the season before. In his Stadium debut, O’Neill filled Kelly’s shoes more than adequately: he went four-for-four with two RBIs. To fully appreciate what O’Neill brought to the lineup, though, Yankees fans would need to wait for a night when he was less than perfect at the plate. O’Neill played with a grim determination, and when he failed to deliver in crucial situations, his frustration with himself was visible from the top rows of the upper deck. If anybody was keeping track at the Elias Sports Bureau, O’Neill almost certainly led the league in public displays of disgust and self-loathing. Striking out with the bases loaded, he would leave the batter’s box and, seething, bat in hand, head straight to the Gatorade bucket sitting in the corner of the Yankees dugout. After beating the liquid out of it, O’Neill would grab his glove and retake the field muttering to himself like someone you might avoid sitting too close to on the subway. It was clearly not an act, and the fans loved it, and him, and the fire he brought to the Yankees.

    I would become more personally acquainted with O’Neill’s trademark intensity later in the season, during games when I was stationed down the first-base line and O’Neill was playing right field. Warming up O’Neill between innings was nothing like the easygoing game of catch it was with any other Yankees right fielder. This was especially true after O’Neill had just made the third out in the previous frame; God forbid he had stranded runners in scoring position. After he stalked out to his position, I would loft the ball to him in a soft arc. He would fire it back at me so fast, and with such palpable frustration, that I was afraid to move my glove an inch from where I held it up to him as a target. O’Neill had an incredible arm, and my saving grace was that he had good control. He was in fact at the top of the pitching depth chart if the Yankees needed a position player to fill in on the mound in an emergency. When he threw the ball in a bad state of mind, it actually made an audible sizzling sound before exploding with an angry pop in the pocket of my glove. It was not much better when I worked bats [transcriber’s note: “bats” means working around the on-deck circle as opposed to the lines or running balls to the umpire]; after making an inning-ending pop-up or groundout, he would hurl his batting helmet in my direction, sending it skipping at shin-shattering speed across the grass in front of the dugout.
    Makes all the routine posts.

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  3. #2
    Redsmetz redsmetz's Avatar
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    Re: Former Yankees batboy on Paul O'Neill

    From the excerpt:

    It was clearly not an act, and the fans loved it, and him, and the fire he brought to the Yankees.
    I think this is the one thing I didn't factor in for myself when Paul was traded. I thought his angst would be derided mercilessly in Yankee Stadium - it's as good an explanation of why he succeeded there with such fan support. I really hate that we let him go.

  4. #3
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    Re: Former Yankees batboy on Paul O'Neill

    Aaron Boone also had that fire
    Go BLUE!!!

  5. #4
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    Re: Former Yankees batboy on Paul O'Neill

    Quote Originally Posted by Benihana View Post
    Aaron Boone also had that fire
    When Aaron Boone struggled, he looked like Eli Manning after a pick.

  6. #5
    Big Red Machine RedsBaron's Avatar
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    Re: Former Yankees batboy on Paul O'Neill

    I loved O'Neill's fire. I'd rather have a player who cared too much than a guy who seemed to like being in Cincinnati because he thought there was no pressure to win, as a former relief pitcher put it a few years ago.
    "Hey...Dad. Wanna Have A Catch?" Kevin Costner in "Field Of Dreams."

  7. #6
    Member red-in-la's Avatar
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    Re: Former Yankees batboy on Paul O'Neill

    That intensity works if you put up the numbers Paul did......
    "Is there a problem officers?"

  8. #7
    Little Reds BandWagon Reds Nd2's Avatar
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    Re: Former Yankees batboy on Paul O'Neill

    Quote Originally Posted by Redsland View Post
    Stories like the time, back on Opening Day in 1992--on his first day on the job--that Don Mattingly himself hand-selected Matt for the important and urgent task of finding Donny Baseball a bat stretcher right away. Our wet-behind-the-ears go-getter dutifully bounced throughout the clubhouse from Danny Tartabull to Buck Showalter (interrupting the manager's pre-opening-day-game meeting with the assembled New York media, over to the visiting clubhouse, and ultimately out into the Bronx itself, fully bedecked in his pinstriped uniform, as Matt rushed upstream through the onrushing crowd in search of a particular sporting goods store.
    I work on knitting machines for a hosiery company and we'll send the newbies to the parts room after cam stretchers or maybe a needle stretcher. When they come back without one, we'll send them to see so and so. "I think he has one." Ah, good times.
    "...You just have a wider lens than one game."
    --Former Reds GM Wayne Krivsky, on why he didn't fly Josh Hamilton to Colorado for one game.

    "...its money well-spent. Don't screw around with your freedom."
    --Roy Tucker, on why you need to lawyer up when you find yourself swimming with sharks.

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    Recovering Cubs Fan
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    Re: Former Yankees batboy on Paul O'Neill

    Quote Originally Posted by Reds Nd2 View Post
    I work on knitting machines for a hosiery company and we'll send the newbies to the parts room after cam stretchers or maybe a needle stretcher. When they come back without one, we'll send them to see so and so. "I think he has one." Ah, good times.
    Like the "Dough Repair Kit" at the pizza place I used to work. Good times, indeed.

  10. #9
    Member chicoruiz's Avatar
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    Re: Former Yankees batboy on Paul O'Neill

    Back when TV stations still shot news on film, we'd send our newbies down the street to the competition to borrow a box of sprocket holes...
    "In baseball, you don't know nothin'"...Yogi Berra

  11. #10
    Plays The Right Way Hap's Avatar
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    Re: Former Yankees batboy on Paul O'Neill

    Quote Originally Posted by Natty Redlocks View Post
    Like the "Dough Repair Kit" at the pizza place I used to work. Good times, indeed.
    Or, the screen stretcher.......

  12. #11
    Member Wheelhouse's Avatar
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    Re: Former Yankees batboy on Paul O'Neill

    Quote Originally Posted by Benihana View Post
    Aaron Boone also had that fire
    With one hundred points lower IQ. Comparason ends there.
    "Don't trust any statistics you did not fake yourself."--Winston Churchill

  13. #12
    Do it! TheBurn's Avatar
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    Re: Former Yankees batboy on Paul O'Neill

    Man... Paul sure had an awesome arm!

  14. #13
    Resident optimist OldRightHander's Avatar
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    Re: Former Yankees batboy on Paul O'Neill

    Quote Originally Posted by Reds Nd2 View Post
    I work on knitting machines for a hosiery company and we'll send the newbies to the parts room after cam stretchers or maybe a needle stretcher. When they come back without one, we'll send them to see so and so. "I think he has one." Ah, good times.
    I worked at a Long John Silvers in high school and the trick then was to send people into the walk in freezer for crab legs or lobster.

  15. #14
    Greatness In The Making RedLegSuperStar's Avatar
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    Re: Former Yankees batboy on Paul O'Neill

    Bret Boone says hi!

  16. #15

    Re: Former Yankees batboy on Paul O'Neill

    Quote Originally Posted by TheBurn View Post
    Man... Paul sure had an awesome arm!
    He had a very accurate foot, as well.

    I can't believe they don't have video of that play on YouTube.
    Chad D
    Redleg Nation: A Cincinnati Reds Blog, Fan Community, and Therapy Group


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