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An All-Star Moment out of Left Field

There are so many great moments from All-Star Games past. For example, I think back to watching the pre-game celebration in 1999 and seeing Major League heroes standing around the great Ted Williams at Fenway Park. During moments like that, the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry is pushed to the side. Having "The Splendid Splinter" return to 4 Yawkey Way is something that a baseball fan will never forget.

The Midsummer Classic showcases the best in the game, and, therefore, is and always has been a stage for great plays. My Dad told me that he remembers watching Pete "Charlie Hustle" Rose throwing himself head long into Ray Fosse to ensure a National League win in 1970. I also can't forget John Kruk's reaction after being brushed back in his famous at-bat against Randy Johnson back in the 1993 All-Star Game.

There are so many plays and moments to chose from.

When I stop to review my favorite All-Star moments, however, one always springs to the forefront of my mind. I am sure it doesn't rank up there with most other fans and baseball historians, but it all comes down to the player who made the play.

My favorite ballplayer of all-time is former New York Yankees and Cincinnati Reds outfielder Paul O'Neill. During his time in the Bronx, "Paulie" was arguably the heart and soul of the Yankees’ Championship teams. He was dubbed "The Warrior" by "The Boss," the late, great George M. Steinbrenner, and lived up to that title whenever he put on the uniform. O'Neill patrolled the right field, led by example, and abused innocent water coolers in the dugout with an Irish temper that I admire and share. Paulie was the best.

At the 1998 All-Star Game at Coors Field, O'Neill shutdown a late-inning NL rally by gunning down former Major League infield Fernando Vina at the plate.

Yes, it's my favorite play because it involved Paul. Yes, it's because he was a New York Yankee. And, yes, it was because he was an everyday right fielder paying left that night in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. That's what being a fan is all about, rooting for your favorite players to make plays you'll always remember. I actually remember sitting with a friend that night watching the game. He is a Red Sox fan, so we rarely agree on anything; but when Paul came up with the ball my buddy exclaimed, "Fernando! DO NOT run on Paul O'Neill!" We were in complete agreement at that moment.

In 2001, "The Warrior" hung up the spikes and returned home to Ohio. It is tough when your favorite player retires, but Paulie left his mark on the All-Star Game that night in Denver and gave Yankee fans, his Bleacher Creatures and me memories that we will never forget. Thanks again, Paulie.

There are so many great moments from All-Star Games past. For example, I think back to watching the pre-game celebration in 1999 and seeing Major League heroes standing around the great Ted Williams at Fenway Park. During moments like that, the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry is pushed to the side. Having "The Splendid Splinter" return to 4 Yawkey Way is something that a baseball fan will never forget.

The Midsummer Classic showcases the best in the game, and, therefore, is and always has been a stage for great plays. My Dad told me that he remembers watching Pete "Charlie Hustle" Rose throwing himself head long into Ray Fosse to ensure a National League win in 1970. I also can't forget John Kruk's reaction after being brushed back in his famous at-bat against Randy Johnson back in the 1993 All-Star Game.

There are so many plays and moments to chose from.

When I stop to review my favorite All-Star moments, however, one always springs to the forefront of my mind. I am sure it doesn't rank up there with most other fans and baseball historians, but it all comes down to the player who made the play.

My favorite ballplayer of all-time is former New York Yankees and Cincinnati Reds outfielder Paul O'Neill. During his time in the Bronx, "Paulie" was arguably the heart and soul of the Yankees’ Championship teams. He was dubbed "The Warrior" by "The Boss," the late, great George M. Steinbrenner, and lived up to that title whenever he put on the uniform. O'Neill patrolled the right field, led by example, and abused innocent water coolers in the dugout with an Irish temper that I admire and share. Paulie was the best.

At the 1998 All-Star Game at Coors Field, O'Neill shutdown a late-inning NL rally by gunning down former Major League infield Fernando Vina at the plate.

Yes, it's my favorite play because it involved Paul. Yes, it's because he was a New York Yankee. And, yes, it was because he was an everyday right fielder paying left that night in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. That's what being a fan is all about, rooting for your favorite players to make plays you'll always remember. I actually remember sitting with a friend that night watching the game. He is a Red Sox fan, so we rarely agree on anything; but when Paul came up with the ball my buddy exclaimed, "Fernando! DO NOT run on Paul O'Neill!" We were in complete agreement at that moment.

In 2001, "The Warrior" hung up the spikes and returned home to Ohio. It is tough when your favorite player retires, but Paulie left his mark on the All-Star Game that night in Denver and gave Yankee fans, his Bleacher Creatures and me memories that we will never forget. Thanks again, Paulie.