Hard-driving Yankee outfielder O'Neill melds a sweet, plainspoken tribute to his father.
No wonder he played with such energy, enthusiasm, and savvy: the third generation of his family to enter professional ball, O'Neill was raised in the Church of Baseball. For his father, Chick, it “was less a game than a way of life, a set of rules and philosophies, challenges and opportunities that provided order in the universe.” When O'Neill writes that baseball embodies “hard work, sacrifice, courage, devotion to family and nation, overcoming hardship, reaching for dreams,” he's not just talking through his hat, but ticking off attributes he drew upon to make his career. His father worked to instill in O'Neill, a notoriously emotional player known for flinging his helmet or working over water coolers after missed opportunities in the batter's box, the understanding that sportsmanship was as important as great play, fun was the name of the game, and optimism would trump a lousy at-bat. This attitude didn't come easy, but his father was always there for him, encouraging and getting him back in line all the way through O'Neill's apprenticeship in the minors, his fine years with the Cincinnati Reds, and his triumphs as a Yankee. (Chick passed away during the 1999 World Series.) O'Neill covers his many career highlights, including those searing line drives, World Series by the peck, and three perfect games. He also makes intelligent comments on salaries and the value of fans, as well as nothing-but-blue-skies tributes to his teammates.
Fans will enjoy getting a peek into the life and quirks of this formerly media-shy player. As much an antidote to David Wells trash talk as we’re likely to get.