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New York Yankees president Hal Steinbrenner and general manager Brian Cashman faced the ire of fans at Yankee Stadium when the organization withdrew Paul O’Neill’s number on Sunday.
The Yankees went into the last game of a four-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays, looking for their 10th game in the last 30. As Steinbrenner and Cashman stepped onto the field for the ceremony, both executives received a noticeable boo.
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New York was 4-14 in August before beating the Blue Jays to avert a sweep, but the message from Yankees fans at the top was sent loud and clear.
During the 40-minute ceremony, some of O’Neill’s former teammates took to the field. Among those in attendance were Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez and Andy Pettitte, according to the New York Post. O’Neill was not allowed to interact with any of the current Yankees players because he has not been vaccinated against COVID-19.
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He hit .303 with 185 home runs and 858 RBI with the Yankees from 1993 to 2001. He was a four-time All-Star and won four World Series titles. His number 21 will now live in Monument Park.
“That’s why I celebrate this day, because this is the biggest dream I’ve ever had in my life,” he said.
O’Neill has been calling games on the Yes Network from his home in Ohio since the pandemic-hit 2020 season. When asked by NJ.com about his vaccination status, he said he would “prefer not to talk about that.”
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Only LaTroy Hawkins wore the number 21 for the Yankees since O’Neill retired. Hawkins wore it on points in 2008 before swapping it out shortly after the start of the season.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.