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The Inside Track

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September 16, 2003|Steve Rom

A consumer's guide to the best and worst of sports media and merchandise. Ground rules: If it can be read, heard, observed, viewed, dialed or downloaded, it's in play here. One exception: No products will be endorsed.

What: "Me and My Dad."

Author: Paul O'Neill, with Burton Rocks.

Publisher: HarperCollins.

Price: $25.95.

In baseball terms, reading Paul O'Neill's new book, "Me and My Dad: A Baseball Memoir," is similar to watching a classic pitchers' duel.

Fans who crave drama might want to stick with David Wells' controversial tell-all book released this year. O'Neill's book is about the love of the game. He credits his father, Chick, with instilling that in him at an early age in their hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

Chick O'Neill, a World War II veteran and former player in the California minor leagues, was dedicated as a father to making sure his six children -- including his youngest, Paul -- had the best in sports development. O'Neill, who retired from baseball in 2001 after winning four World Series championships with the New York Yankees, wrote this about his father in the opening chapter: "Our backyard, together with baseball diamonds in nearby parks, became a kind of school for me, where Dad taught me everything he knew about the game."

That included resilience. Mired in a slump in the Cincinnati Reds' minor league organization, O'Neill received a letter from his dad.

"Reading his words, it was almost as if he was physically put- ting his arms around me, energizing me with the will to carry on," said O'Neill, whom the Reds later called up to the majors on Sept. 3, 1985, after five years in the minors.

In 1993, the Reds grew disappointed in O'Neill's home run falloff -- 28 in 1991 to 14 in 1992 -- and traded him to the Yankees.

"[I] was in tears, and my father was celebrating. 'Paul,' he exclaimed, 'this is going to be the best thing that ever happened to you,' " O'Neill wrote.

Chick O'Neill passed away during the 1999 World Series.

-- Steve Rom

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