By JOHN L. KOMINICKI //
With Father’s Day nigh, the Web and social media are downright distended, digitally speaking, with gift ideas for the favorite progenitor-figure in your life.
No one has better stock than The New York Times’ T Store, which assaults every holiday like it’s 1940 France, with a hull-down, shock and awe deployment of ads, native content and printed supplements that tout rare coins and advertising ephemera, cuff links, even a personalized wooden pie box.
A pie box?
And sports collectibles, of course, from an autographed Yogi Berra card and photo set – that’s “hand signed” by the way – to a Joe DiMaggio pin-back and a set featuring infield dirt from all 30 major league ballparks.
And this: The Paul O’Neill Signed Baseball With Case and Card, in a handsome display case; was $199.95, now available at the “door buster” price of just $79.95.
You will remember O’Neill as the Yankees’ prized right fielder of the 1990s, a five-time All Star with five World Series rings, the guy George Steinbrenner called the “heart and soul” of the team. Not the straw, not the captain, just the heart and soul.
He’s also the only major leaguer to play in three perfect games, including David Wells’ 1998 effort – O’Neill caught the last fly ball to cinch it – and David Cone’s 1999 outing, in which O’Neill made a diving catch that kept the string alive.
As a Boston fan, I measure the greatness of Yankee players by how much I hated them, and in this regard O’Neill is a Hall of Famer. A clutch hitter who won the AL batting championship in 1994 with an average of .359, O’Neill hit 281 home runs in his 17-year career and tallied more than 1,200 RBIs. All of them against my Red Sox, at least as I remember it.
He retired without much fanfare after the 2001 season to take up broadcasting and write a book about his dad, Chick, whom he described as “my childhood hero, my pal and my mentor.”
Bottom line: Buying a marked-down O’Neill collectible would dishonor him. You should buy his book instead. Father’s Day, after all, was designed to celebrate our heroes, our pals and our mentors.
Even those of us who find a pie box oddly tempting.