A new chapter unfolds for gold medal winner

By Ronald MacArthur

This time of year has always had a special meaning to Mike Neill. Baseball has been a way of life for the 1988 Seaford High graduate, but another chapter is beginning to unfold. Neill, who won a gold medal playing for Team USA in the 2000 Olympics, is now a financial advisor and analyst with UBS in Philadelphia. He has traded in his glove and bat for stock portfolios and money market funds. “It was time to move on,” he said. “If you got two hits the night before they left you alone. It’s a brand new world for me. I like to try to help people and to help make their money grow,” he said. But it was one he was always preparing for. He was attending Villanova University to get a degree in finance when he was drafted by the Oakland A’s back in 1991. He ended up playing professional baseball for 11 years, but just for one month in the Major Leagues. He played for the A’s, Mariners, and Mets, finishing with the Red Sox AAA team in 2002. He has gone back to college and received his degree. He was back in his hometown last week to speak to fifth graders during the AAUW Career Power Fair at Central Elementary and Blades Elementary schools. He started off his presentation to students showing an inspiring highlight video of the 2000 Summer Olympics. Neill, who was 30 at the time of the Games, turned out to be one of the heroes of the Olympics hitting the winning homer in the win over Japan, hitting a homer in the title game with Cuba, and making the final catch in the gold medal game. Neill said being on Team USA is the highlight of his baseball career. “It was privilege and I was proud to represent my country and Seaford,” he said.
“I worked my whole life for that two to three minutes on that highlight tape,” Neill told the students. “From the time I was a sophomore in high school I worked out every day. Even during the baseball season, I worked out every day and during the off season, it was every day. “You can chase your dreams like I did, but you have to have something to fall back on. The difference is education,” he added. “Start the foundation now.” He showed the students a chart that listed the number of baseball players who actually make it to the Major Leagues: 455,000 play high school baseball; 26,000 go on to play college baseball; of that total 600 are drafted to play professional baseball; of that total 50 actually play at least one day in the Major Leagues; and of that 50, only three are signed to multiyear large contracts. He showed them another listing of numbers showing average salaries depending on education levels: no high school diploma - $19,000; high school diploma - $32,000; college degree - $59,000; doctorate - $91,000. “The difference is education and then more education,” Neill said. Neill said that he is willing to meet and talk with people in this area about their financial needs. He can be reached at 1-800-345-7941

The Neill file . . . won six state Little League title playing in the Nanticoke Little League . . . won one high school state championship . . . won two Big East titles . . . won an AAA title . . . won a gold medal in the 2000 Olympics . . . finished with a .307 career average with 1,185 hits playing in 1,100 Minor League games . . .

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