The father of New York Yankees right fielder Paul O'Neill died early this morning in New York after a long battle with heart problems. O'Neill still showed up and played the entire game, but after the game, broke down as he attempted to discuss his father amid a joyous clubhouse celebration of a 4-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves.
Charles O'Neill, 79, died at 2:30 a.m. at Lenox Hill Hospital after a long struggle with various heart ailments. He had come from his Ohio home for treatment and had been in the hospital for some time.
"I'm proud to be here, I'm proud to be part of this team . . . but believe me, I lost someone special," he said, breaking down.
After the game, Yankees Manager Joe Torre grabbed O'Neill on the field and told him: "Your dad got to watch this one."
O'Neill was in the lineup in his usual spot, batting third and playing right field. "When he showed up, I assumed he was going to play," Torre said. "That's why he was here. This can keep his mind off the grieving for a couple of hours. Paulie does what he does. As George Steinbrenner likes to say, he's a warrior. He's here even though it is tough to concentrate."
O'Neill is the third Yankee whose father has died in the past two months. Scott Brosius's father died of colon cancer on Sept. 12. Luis Sojo missed the first two games of the Series after his father died Oct. 21.
"When you play this game you try to eliminate the highs and lows," Torre said. "That has been difficult. There is nothing higher than playing in the World Series and nothing lower than mourning the loss of a family member. There has been a lot of this going on. We just have to fight through it."
Latin Players Disappointed
Three Latin American reporters sent a letter to Commissioner Bud Selig "to express the most fervent disappointment for the unjustifiable exclusion of Roberto Clemente" from the All-Century Team.
Saying they were speaking for 21 Latin American reporters who met and voted before Game 4 of the World Series, Jaime Jarrin, Billy Berroa and Manolo Hernandez-Douen included a Latin American All-Century Team with the letter they sent to Selig.
It has Orlando Cepeda and Andres Galarraga at first, Rod Carew and Roberto Alomar at second, Tony Perez and Vinny Castilla at third, Luis Aparacio, Dave Concepcion and Chico Carrasquel at shortstop and Ivan Rodriguez and Manny Sanguillen at catcher.
The outfielders are Clemente, Sammy Sosa, Juan Gonzalez, Tony Oliva, Bernie Williams and Minnie Minoso. The pitchers are Juan Marichal, Luis Tiant, Fernando Valenzuela, Dennis Martinez, Pedro Martinez, Martin Dihigo, Mike Cueller, Mariano Rivera, Camilo Pascual and Roberto Hernandez.
Aaron Award Winners
Manny Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians and Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs were named the winners of the first Hank Aaron awards as the best hitters in each league. The winners were selected by adding up hits, home runs and RBI.
Gray Boycott Ends
The Yankees ended their one-day boycott of NBC reporter Jim Gray and did several interviews with him after they'd won their 25th World Series. "We talked about it late last night and they both jumped into it," NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol said. "George walked into the situation and took control. . . . He made it abundantly clear that nothing like that would happen again." . . .
Braves hitting coach Don Baylor said the Baltimore Orioles sought permission to interview him early during the World Series. He said he hasn't heard from them since, adding: "I don't know what they're thinking." Baylor is expected to be named manager of the Cubs within the next few days, but the Milwaukee Brewers also have offered him their managerial job. . . .
Jim Leyritz hit the 18th pinch home run in World Series history, the first since Ed Sprague for Toronto in Game 2 of the 1992 Series against Atlanta. . . . Mariano Rivera finished the regular season with 30 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings, not allowing a run after July 21. He pitched 12 1/3 scoreless innings in eight postseason appearances, going 1-0 with six saves. . . . Derek Jeter extended his postseason hitting streak to 17 games, tying Hank Bauer (1956-58) for the longest ever. Jeter has hit in nine consecutive Series games. Bauer's streak was all World Series games.