The New York Yankees announced on Tuesday that outfielder Paul O’Neill would have his number retired prior to New York’s matchup against the Toronto Blue Jays on August 21st. The No. 21 jersey O’Neill wore for the Yankees from 1993 until 2001 will fittingly become the 21st number retired by the franchise, joining a list that includes some of the game’s most prolific figures.

Over his 1,254-game tenure in the Bronx, O’Neill slashed .303/.377/.492, making a home for himself in the heart of the Yankees batting order. His consistency at the plate and strong throwing arm in right field helped aid the Yankees to five World Series appearances, including four titles.

Although the five-time All-Star played his best baseball in 1994 when he won the league’s Batting Title, O’Neill shined his brightest during the 2000 World Series against the New York Mets. O’Neill put up nine hits in the five games it took to win the Fall Classic, including a pair of doubles and a pair of triples while striking out just four times over the course of the series.

O’Neill’s career totals rank as follows in New York Yankees history:

  • Batting Average (min. 3,000 PA): 11th (.303)
  • On-Base Percentage (min. 3,000 PA): 16th (.377)
  • Slugging Percentage (min. 3,000 PA): 13th (.492)
  • Plate Appearances: 30th (5,368)
  • Hits: 24th (1,426)
  • Walks: 23rd (586)
  • Home Runs: 19th (185)
  • Runs Scored: 27th (720)
  • Runs Batted In: 14th (858)

To some fans, O’Neill’s retirement marks a decline in the talent margin between notable players in franchise history and those worthy of enshrinement in Monument Park, like Babe Ruth or Mickey Mantle. To others, the retirement is justified as it immortalizes one of the team’s most beloved players and key contributors during an era of dominance for the franchise. Regardless, the number 21, which has been worn only once by a Yankees player since O’Neill’s retirement in 2001, will forever belong to Paul O’Neill: The Warrior.

Featured Image Credit: G. Paul Burnett/The New York Times

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