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BASEBALL PLAYOFFS

You Really Have to Give a Big Hand to the Entire O'Neill Family

October 13, 1998|MIKE DiGIOVANNA

NEW YORK — Yankee right fielder Paul O'Neill has such an aversion to failure that his tantrums after a strikeout or pop-up have become legendary. It's a trait that apparently runs deep in the O'Neill family.

After the New York Times published a feature about O'Neill in spring training, a family friend of the player sent writer Buster Olney a passage from an encyclopedia about the O'Neill clan in Ireland.

According to ancient lore, two rival chieftains, one the O'Neill leader, agreed that they would row across a body of water, and whoever first touched the Isle of Destiny would possess land rights.

As they neared land, O'Neill realized he was going to lose. So he drew his sword, cut off his left hand and threw it to shore, winning the race. The bloody hand--the Red Hand of Ulster--is part of the O'Neill coat of arms.

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