Trio of YES analysts come to work and play on Old-Timers' Day
YES Network analysts Paul O'Neill, David Cone, and John Flaherty were all back on the field for either the Clippers or Bombers Sunday afternoon, getting a few more innings in while wearing the pinstripes. But in keeping with their current roles, all three had live microphones on during the game, giving the fans a chance to hear their thoughts in the midst of their moment.
Beforehand, however, each took a moment to reflect just on the ability to be out on the field on a day like this, especially when doing so in the employ of the pinstripes once again.
"This is the one place you can still pull this off, because of the tradition and the fan base," O'Neill said. "The history of baseball seems to be here, and I've never shied away from saying that I'm very proud to have played with the Yankees and still be involved with the organization."
"This day is like no other, man; other teams have tried it, including the Dodgers this year, but nobody does it like the Yankees," Cone said. "There's so many generations that you can reach back and touch, and it just means so much."
"It's great, because I have those thoughts that when I was a player, I was mostly a backup and wasn't a big part of those teams, but now doing the broadcasting, I feel like I'm a part of it a bit," Flaherty said. "The organization has been great to me over the years, and it's a lot a fun."
Once upon a time, "Flash," "Coney," and "The Warrior" earned those names on the field, and as such had their own memories of Old-Timers' Day.
"One of the great memories is when the Old-Timers would come into our locker room and we'd share lockers with them," Cone said. "Whether it was Whitey Ford or Joe DiMaggio or Mickey Mantle when he was alive - just to see those guys walking through your clubhouse, let alone sharing a locker, is really a unique experience."
And even though it was his first time on the other side, Flaherty said that nothing has changed.
"Obviously seeing Yogi and Whitey and guys like that is great, and in the clubhouse, Ron Guidry has kind of taken on that leadership role with the Old-Timers, organizing things and making sure guys are connecting, so it's still like a family," Flaherty said.
Of course, the "Old-Timers rookie" admitted beforehand that he was a little overwhelmed by the experience, but he got a little advice on how to deal with the butterflies.
"I'm nervous, I'll admit it, but I'm excited too, and it's great being around all the guys. When you have a bat in your hand or a glove on, that competitive nature comes back so we'll see how it goes," Flaherty said before the game. "As far as how to handle the day, Rob Thomson said it perfectly: go out there and have a good time, enjoy being with these guys and telling stories, and have fun; don't take the game too seriously, just go out there and let it fly."
As Cone noted, this year likely won't be the only time Flash gets the Old-Timers butterflies.
"It's pretty good, you actually get some butterflies going," Cone said before the game. "I see O'Neill taking batting practice, and I know he wants to take me deep, so I have to get my arm loose - and I know that it's going to start hurting at about the release point - but that's the way it goes, and you forget about all those things on a day like today."
And, while there are already plenty of Old-Timers from when O'Neill (1993-2001) and Cone (1995-2000) played, there are now starting to be some Old-Timers from even the 2003-05 tenure of Flaherty, and Flash pointed to one of them who was also a 2013 rookie as one who he was excited to see.
"Andy Phillips and I played a few years together here and were both backup players, so we spent a lot of time together," Flaherty said, "I think we both have the same perspective that we're thankful that the organization is having us be a part of a day like today."
Of course, beyond the catching up and the actual game, there was still work to be done; all three were, as mentioned, on live mic throughout the afternoon, something Cone took pride in.
"I was a huge fan of Bobby Murcer. He was a great player and broadcaster, and he did this day so well," Cone said. "He would get mic'd up and go out on the field and chat, and this year I get to do that…it's in honor of Bobby. We miss him, and I'm following in some pretty good footsteps."
At the end of the day, Flaherty and O'Neill each had a big hit and Cone wasn't too sore from throwing heat, but the final score was forgotten as soon as the game ended, because as Coney admitted, it's all good no matter what happens on Old-Timers' Day.
"I guess everybody in every industry has their own language; when old ballplayers get together, we can speak in a language that's foreign to most people, so we can speak kind of freely," Cone said. "You don't get that opportunity much unless you're just in a clubhouse with all ball players. When you can compare notes with multiple generations, it's kind of cool."