Thursday, January 10, 2002
O'Neill finds way to stay in game
He'll serve as part-time analyst on Yanks telecasts
By Gary Estwick
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Paul O'Neill gave up his New York Yankees cap, but he has replaced it with a headset.
O'Neill, a popular outfielder for the Reds from 1985-92 and then for the Yankees during their return to glory, will work as a pre- and postgame analyst on the YES Network, a regional cable network being launched by the Yankees in March.
O'Neill, 38, who retired after the Yankees lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks in last year's World Series, turned down offers to play or coach including for the Reds to stay close to the two most important factors in his life: his family and the Yankees organization.
It's a way for me to stay in baseball and not do all the traveling, said O'Neill, who helped the Reds win a World Championship in 1990 and still lives in Cincinnati.
He added that he didn't want to make his family move again.
My family has given up a lot, O'Neill said.
O'Neill will continue to live in Montgomery. He'll commute to New York for about 25 games. His family, which still has ties in the New York community, often will join him on his road trips.
Chris Welsh, a former teammate of O'Neill's with the Reds, said he doesn't think anyone could be better-suited for the position.
Paul is the kind of guy that you could tell the first time you met him he would be a success at anything he wants to be, said Welsh, who played for the Reds in 1986 and is now in his 10th year as a Reds TV analyst.
O'Neill said he contemplated broadcasting after he started thinking about retirement, as he searched for a way to stay close to baseball without packing his bags for spring training.
Marty Brennaman, the Reds' radio announcer, said a positive element about O'Neill's broadcasting deal is that he isn't burying himself in the job. Many former sports stars have jumped unsuccessfully from the playing field to the studio and landed hard.
That's why Brennaman approves of O'Neill's easing into broadcasting. I think that's smart, Brennaman said. What that does is give him a chance to decide if this is something he wants to get more involved with or if he wants to give it up.
Making O'Neill's job harder is the fact that he just left the Yankees. The time might come when O'Neill, known for his straight face and big plays in the World Series, will have to criticize former teammates.
O'Neill is hoping for an easy transition.
Anything that's new is a challenge, he said. Hopefully it will work out well. I've always loved taking about baseball and what happened in the game. And when you're working with people you're comfortable with, I'm sure that will help.
While O'Neill's in Cincinnati, the family's satellite service will keep him up to date with the Yankees.
That is, until he returns to New York on weekends or during competitive series.
It will almost be like a fun trip, to go into New York and see friends and get back into Yankee baseball, he said.
So for now, he's holding onto his pinstripes.
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