Paul O’Neill Wine Cellar Q &A
There are 3 players that I have always told my kids to look up to: Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon (once he became a Yankee because of his Wounded Warrior work) and Paul O’Neill.
Paul played the game with such passion and was the epitome of what I call a “gamer.” I highly recommend reading his book called Me and My Dad: A Baseball Memoir by Paul O’Neill, with Burton Rocks. His memories are treats to Yankee stories, hometown tales, and valuable insights into what has made him the person he is today, all of it shaped by his relationship with his father.
So let’s start the Q&A with Paul O’Neill …
What do you think of this year’s NY Yankee team?
“They are right there in the toughest division in MLB. They have a lot to live up to with the new stadium and signing three of the top five free agents. Let’s face it, Yankee fans expect them to win it all. September will decide everything. They have to get away from the injury bug. It has really added up these last two years but great teams play through adversity and find a way.”
How is your retirement going?
“Great. I don’t miss traveling so much. I do miss the pinstripes. In golf, etiquette is a little different when you get frustrated but I have chucked a few clubs when it starts driving me crazy. I don’t feel retired with the golf events, broadcasting, kids and charity. They all keep me busy.”
When did you start getting into wine?
“In about 2001 when I felt my playing career should end.”
What are your favorite wines?
“Silver Oak, Insignia, Von Strasser Strauss, Prisoner.”
Ever thought of owning your own vineyard?
“A lot of wine drinkers have fantasies of it. My father came from a farm family and always told me how the work never ends and since a vineyard is a form of farming, I think I better let others and just enjoy the fruits of their labor.”
Are you enjoying the wine cellar?
“I love it. It’s sort of like my space in my house. A special place where others have to be asked in. Sort of like my treehouse as an adult.”
“Not too often and usually just one on one. Mine is not big enough to have a table or bunch of chairs.”
What was your most memorable Yankee moment?
“Game five of the 2001 World Series was certainly up there. The fans spontaneously chanting without being prompted by the scoreboard. I felt like it all had come together, my father, baseball, the fans thanking me when nine years before, I had a lot of doubts about making it in New York. Who would have ever imagined we’d become the greatest baseball dynasty since the 50s Yankees? We beat the best team in the National League, the Braves, eight World Series games in a row. We won 14 straight World Series games. If teams entered the Hall of Fame, Cooperstown would be right to have the 90s Yankees high on their list.”
How many Gatorade coolers have you destroyed?
“None. I just tuned some up but they still worked.”
“We just started it a couple years ago. Basically we serve other charities that serve children with money and memorabilia to their auctions. We seek to serve children, the heart of baseball which I owe much gratitude to. I also don’t like seeing people who work for charities pay themselves four and five times what the average person makes in America. If you want to be paid like that, go into private industry and take the risks others take. So we try to be careful of whom we give to. There are great charities out there and there are lemons. We do our best to distinguish. More than anything, whether a person gives to Right Field or someone else, it’s to send a message that the world needs you to help. You don’t have to be famous or wealthy to qualify. You just have to be there. Do something. Contribute. One day we’d like to build a beautiful park full of diamonds that kids can play great baseball in even if they can’t afford it. I’d like to dedicate it to my father who played, coached and spectated his whole life for almost no financial gain to him. He probably spent more money buying kids milkshakes than he ever made playing in the minor leagues. That could steer a lot of kids onto the right path. Give them a sense of belonging. It is a long process. Nobody at RFC even takes a paycheck right now. But the charity world is competitive in itself. A lot of organizations compete for available funds.”
Are there any events coming up?
“Yes. There is one in the works. So many people have written in asking about it. We will send notices to our fan club mailing list which can be found at www.pauloneill21.com ”
I heard you may have a special event at Italian Wine Merchants.
“Yes, that is in the works. These events are hard to schedule because when I’m in NY, the days are very busy because I don’t reside there anymore. We have to fit everything in in just a couple days and you never know about rain outs, extra innings. But we’ll get it together.”
Do you prefer white or red wine?
“Red. I don’t like a lot of sweetness in wine. Dry is good for me.”
What is your favorite wine story?
“Going to Italy and discovering I loved the super Tuscans more than the French wines.”
Who is your favorite band?
“The Stones and then Kenney Chesney. Bon Jovi and John Mellencamp are up there too.”
Are you still playing the drums?
“Yes, but I’m being eclipsed by my two boys. I can’t sing so I don’t know where I’d sit if we formed a band.”
Do you miss NYC?
“Of course. It’s a place where you could never see everything or know everything about. I don’t miss the traffic but living there full-time was certainly a high point in my life with priceless memories.”
Once a date is set for the IWM event, Joseph and Curtis Custom Wine Cellars will auction off a wine racking system to help our friend Paul O’Neill with his charity Right Field Charities. Please stay tuned for dates to this awesome event. I have to say I always loved seeing “Paulie” in the
pinstripes…but he looks DAMN good in a J & C shirt!!