Former New York Yankees right-fielder and "Seinfeld" actor, Paul O'Neill, finally proved to the world the existence of a piece of Little League equipment called "rabbit ears" used during his youth. After a friend sent over one of the beat-up head protectors, O'Neill sported the unusual leather ear flaps on air.
A couple of weeks ago, while doing his broadcasting gig on the YES Network during a Yankees game, the talk turned to batting helmets and how they have evolved over the years. O'Neill casually mentioned wearing the rabbit ears during his Little League years in Columbus, Ohio. O'Neill's co-caster, Michael Kay, did a double take and, like a million other listeners, and said he never heard of the such a piece of equipment when he played baseball while growing up in New York.
Was it myth or reality? Some people thought O'Neill was living in some fantasy land and was, himself, probably beaned in the head too many times.
O'Neill insisted it was regulation gear for protecting a kid rounding the bases and thought he might have one lying around somewhere. O'Neill was occasionally ribbed after he could not find or produce the legendary head gear.
In a time long before video and phone cameras, O'Neill was unable to document or produce evidence to back his fabulous tale; so rabbit ears were as real as Nessie and Bigfoot.
Finally, during today's game against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium, a weathered pair of blue rabbit ears made it to the broadcast booth, verifying the existence of the funny-looking head protectors.
The odd looking gadget fits over your head and looks like a hybrid of a wrestler's ear protector and the bottom-half of a football helmet worn during the Bronco Nagurski era. There is no protection on top and has no visor. It looks the players cap is worn under the top straps.
I still don't understand why you needed one to run the bases.
So, Paul O'Neill, you are vindicated for what was once thought to be a too vivid imagination. Now find the Fountain of Youth that has revived Bartolo Colon's career.