Lou Piniella
Piniella with the Chicago Cubs in 2008
Left fielder / Manager
Born: (1943-08-28) August 28, 1943 (age 80)
Tampa, Florida, U.S.
Batted: Right
Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 4, 1964, for the Baltimore Orioles
Last MLB appearance
June 16, 1984, for the New York Yankees
MLB statistics
Batting average.291
Home runs102
Runs batted in766
Managerial record1,835–1,712
Winning %.517
As player

As manager

As coach

Career highlights and awards

Louis Victor Piniella (/pnˈjjɑː/[1][2] usually /pɪˈnɛlə/; born August 28, 1943)[3] is a former professional baseball player and manager. An outfielder, he played 18 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) with the Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees. During his playing career, he was named AL Rookie of the Year in 1969 and captured two World Series championships with the Yankees (1977, 1978).

Following his playing career, Piniella became a manager for the Yankees (19861988), Cincinnati Reds (19901992), Seattle Mariners (19932002), Tampa Bay Devil Rays (20032005), and Chicago Cubs (20072010). He won the 1990 World Series championship with the Reds and led the Mariners to four postseason appearances in seven years (including a record 116-win regular season in 2001). He also captured back-to-back division titles (2007–2008) during his time with the Cubs. Piniella was named Manager of the Year three times during his career (1995, 2001, 2008) and finished his managerial career ranked 14th all time on the list of managerial wins.

He was nicknamed "Sweet Lou", both for his swing as a major league hitter and, facetiously, to describe his demeanor as a player and manager.

Early life

Piniella was born in Tampa, Florida. Though he is often mistaken for being Italian American, Piniella's parents were of Asturian descent, from northwest Spain.[1][4][5][6][7] He grew up in West Tampa, and played American Legion baseball[8][9] and PONY League baseball alongside fellow future major league manager Tony La Russa.[10] Piniella attended Jesuit High School in Tampa, where he played several sports and was an All-American in basketball.[11] After graduation in 1961,[12][13][14] he attended the University of Tampa for a year, where he was a College Division (today's Division II) All-American in baseball for the Spartans.[15]

Playing career

Piniella was signed by the Cleveland Indians at age 18 as an amateur free agent on June 9, 1962.[16] That fall, he was drafted by the Washington Senators from the Indians in the 1962 first year draft. In August 1964, Piniella was sent to the Baltimore Orioles to complete an earlier trade for Buster Narum, and Piniella played in his first major league game that September with the Orioles at the age of 21. He also played three seasons with the Portland Beavers from 1966 to 1968. Prior to the 1966 season, he was traded by the Orioles back to the Indians for Cam Carreon, and made his second major league appearance in September 1968 at age 25 with the Indians.

In the middle part of the decade, Piniella played winter baseball in Nicaragua.[17]

Piniella was selected by the Seattle Pilots in the 1968 expansion draft in October, but was traded after spring training on April 1 to the Kansas City Royals for John Gelnar and Steve Whitaker.[18]

Piniella at-bat in a 1983 spring training game

Piniella played for the Royals for their first five seasons (19691973) and was the American League's Rookie of the Year in 1969 and was named to the 1972 All-Star Game. He was the first batter in Royals history; on April 8 of their first season in 1969, he led off the bottom of the first inning against left-hander Tom Hall of the Minnesota Twins. Piniella doubled to left field, then scored on an RBI single by Jerry Adair.

After the 1973 season, Piniella was traded by the Royals with Ken Wright to the New York Yankees for Lindy McDaniel. Baseball author Bill James called the trade the only clinker the Royals made during the 1970s.[19] He played with the Yankees for 11 seasons, during which the Yankees won five AL East titles (1976–78, 1980, and 1981), four AL pennants (1976–78, and 1981), and two World Series championships (197778). In 1975, he missed part of the year with an inner ear infection. From mid-1977 through the end of 1980, he was the Yankees' regular outfielder/DH.

In his career, Piniella made one All-Star team and compiled 1,705 lifetime hits despite not playing full-time for just under half of his career. He received 2 votes for the Hall of Fame as a player in 1990.

Coaching and front office career

Piniella, age 39, speaks to a WCBS-TV reporter during spring training in 1983

New York Yankees

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After retiring as a player, Piniella joined the Yankees coaching staff as the hitting coach. He managed the Yankees from 1986 to 1987; promoted to general manager to start the 1988 season, he took over as manager after the firing of Billy Martin (in his fifth and final run as Yankee manager) on June 23. His initial managerial contract for 1986 was for $200,000.[20] Combining both stints as Yankees manager, he posted 224 wins and 193 losses.[21]

Cincinnati Reds

The Cincinnati Reds let go of Tommy Helms after he managed the last 37 games of the 1989 season (marred by the permanent ban of player-manager Pete Rose). October 13 saw the hiring of former Yankee front officeman Bob Quinn as general manager. Piniella was hired by the Reds on November 3, 1989 on a three year deal for $350,000 after getting approval from Steinbrenner to be released from the personal services contract that paid Piniella $400,000 each for two years.[22] Piniella managed the Cincinnati Reds from 1990 through 1992. In his first year, the Reds won the World Series in a four-game sweep of the heavily-favored Oakland Athletics, who were the defending champions. The sweep over a team with twelve wins more than the 91 win Reds was considered a massive shock, and it was the first Reds title since 1976. His three-year contract totaled over $1 million.[22] The honeymoon with the Reds would not last long. The 1991 team saw them finish under .500, but the most noted moment was an outburst by Piniella in an August game. Gary Darling overturned a call that cost the Reds a home run, and after the game, Piniella accused Darling of being biased against the Reds. Two months later, Darling and the Major League Umpires Association sued for defamation to the tune of $5 million against Piniella. When he asked owner Marge Schott for help, she did not budge on helping with paying for a lawyer, which Piniella had to do out of his own pocket. While he stated that realized his own error in making the statement against Darling, the fact that he received no backing from the Reds played a key part in him not wanting to manage there (as for the lawsuit, it ended in compromise, with Piniella issuing a statement).[23]

Following his third season, he announced in October that he had rejected a contract extension.[24] He finished with a record of 255 wins and 231 losses.[21] He was replaced by Tony Pérez, who was fired 44 games into the season for Davey Johnson. Since Piniella's departure, the Reds have won only one postseason series.

Seattle Mariners

Under a new ownership group,[25] Piniella was introduced as the new manager of the Mariners in November 1992,[26][27] and led the Seattle Mariners for ten seasons (19932002). His wife Anita initially insisted he not take the position; they lived in New Jersey in Allendale, and she thought Seattle was too far away from their family and children, and spring training was in Arizona instead of Florida.[28] His initial contract in Seattle was for $2.5 million over three years,[26][27] significantly more than his predecessor, Bill Plummer, whose two-year deal totaled $500,000.[29]

On August 18, 1999, he won his 1,000th game (having managed 1,926 in total) in a 5-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.[30]

Piniella won the AL Manager of the Year Award in 1995, and again in 2001, when he led the Mariners to a record-tying 116 wins. After winning the 2001 AL Division Series against the Cleveland Indians, the Mariners dropped the first two games of the AL Championship Series to the New York Yankees, and Piniella held an angry post-game press conference in which he guaranteed the Mariners would win two out of three games in New York to return the ALCS to Seattle. However, the Yankees closed out the series at Yankee Stadium, and the Mariners would not reach the postseason again until 2022. Following the 2002 season, Piniella requested out of his final year with the Mariners to manage the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.[15][31] As compensation, the Devil Rays traded outfielder Randy Winn to the Mariners for infield prospect Antonio Perez.[32]

Piniella finished with a record of 840 wins and 711 losses.[21] All four of the Mariners' playoff appearances in team history to that point were under Piniella. In 2014, Piniella was inducted into the Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame on August 9.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Piniella returned to the Tampa area in October 2002, taking over for a team that had just finished at 55–106 (.342) under Hal McRae.[1][32] In his first two seasons with the Devil Rays, Piniella was able to improve the team somewhat, and they won a franchise-record 70 games in 2004. This was also the first season in which they did not finish last in their division.

During the 2005 season, Piniella was critical of the Devil Rays' front office for focusing too much on the future and not enough on immediate results, and for not increasing payroll quickly enough to field a competitive team. The Devil Rays started the season with a $30 million payroll, which was the lowest in the major leagues; the Yankees payroll in 2005 was over $208 million. Tensions eventually made Piniella step down as the Devil Rays' manager on September 21.[33] He finished with a record of 200 wins and 285 losses.[21] He had a season remaining on his four-year $13 million contract from October 2002, but agreed to a $2.2 million buyout, in lieu of $4.4 million that he was due for a fourth season. He would have also received $1.25 million in deferred salary from 2003.[34][35]

Chicago Cubs

On October 16, 2006, Piniella agreed to a three-year contract to manage the Chicago Cubs for $10 million with a $5 million option for a fourth year in 2010.[36]

Though Piniella's Cubs won the Central Division in his first two years (20072008), and boasted the best record in the NL in 2008, the Cubs were swept in the postseason both years, first by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2007 NLDS and then the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2008 NLDS. Piniella was named NL Manager of the Year for 2008.[37][38]

In 2010, Piniella announced on July 20 his intention to retire as manager of the Cubs at season's end.[39] However, on August 22, Piniella decided to resign after that day's game, stating that he wanted to care for his ailing 90-year-old mother.[40] He finished with a record of 316 wins and 293 losses.[21]

San Francisco Giants

On February 2, 2011, Piniella was hired by the San Francisco Giants as a special consultant.[41][42] He did not return to that position after the season.[43]

Return to Cincinnati Reds

On February 5, 2016, Piniella rejoined the Cincinnati Reds as a special consultant.

Managerial record

Team Year Regular season Postseason
Games Won Lost Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
NYY 1986 162 90 72 .556 2nd in AL East
NYY 1987 162 89 73 .549 4th in AL East
NYY 1988 93 45 48 .484 5th in AL East
NYY total 417 224 193 .537 0 0
CIN 1990 162 91 71 .562 1st in NL West 8 2 .800 Won World Series (OAK)
CIN 1991 162 74 88 .457 5th in NL West
CIN 1992 162 90 72 .556 2nd in NL West
CIN total 486 255 231 .525 8 2 .800
SEA 1993 162 82 80 .506 4th in AL West
SEA 1994 112 49 63 .438 3rd in AL West
SEA 1995 145 79 66 .545 1st in AL West 5 6 .455 Lost ALCS (CLE)
SEA 1996 161 85 76 .528 2nd in AL West
SEA 1997 162 90 72 .556 1st in AL West 1 3 .250 Lost ALDS (BAL)
SEA 1998 161 76 85 .472 3rd in AL West
SEA 1999 162 79 83 .488 3rd in AL West
SEA 2000 162 91 71 .562 2nd in AL West 5 4 .556 Lost ALCS (NYY)
SEA 2001 162 116 46 .716 1st in AL West 4 6 .400 Lost ALCS (NYY)
SEA 2002 162 93 69 .574 3rd in AL West
SEA total 1551 840 711 .542 15 19 .441
TB 2003 162 63 99 .389 5th in AL East
TB 2004 161 70 91 .435 4th in AL East
TB 2005 162 67 95 .414 5th in AL East
TB total 485 200 285 .412 0 0
CHC 2007 162 85 77 .525 1st in NL Central 0 3 .000 Lost NLDS (ARI)
CHC 2008 161 97 64 .602 1st in NL Central 0 3 .000 Lost NLDS (LAD)
CHC 2009 161 83 78 .516 2nd in NL Central
CHC 2010 125 51 74 .408 resigned
CHC total 609 316 293 .519 0 6 .000
Total[21] 3548 1835 1713 .517 23 27 .460

Broadcasting career

In 1989, Piniella worked as a color analyst for Yankees telecasts on MSG Network. After parting ways with the Devil Rays in 2005, Piniella was an analyst for Fox Sports, first joining Joe Buck and Tim McCarver calling the 2005 American League Championship Series. He was then an analyst with the network for the 2006 season, and also joined Thom Brennaman and Steve Lyons for the postseason.

On February 22, 2012, it was announced Piniella would join the YES Network as an analyst for Yankees games. He made his YES debut on March 4 during a Yankees-Phillies spring training game.[43][44] He left the network after the season.

Personal life

Piniella married his wife Anita (Garcia)[1] in 1967, and together they have three children.[45]

Piniella suffered what was described as a "mini-stroke" in June 2017, but sufficiently recovered to resume his role as senior advisor to baseball operations with the Cincinnati Reds for the 2018 season.[46]

Hall of Fame consideration

Piniella has been a candidate for election to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee three times, in 2016,[47] 2018, and 2023 but has thus far failed to be elected. In 2018 he received 11 of a required 12 votes for the 2019 induction class.[48] On the ballot for December 2023, he again received eleven votes, one short of induction.

In other media

Piniella made a cameo appearance in the 1994 film Little Big League.

In late 2007, Piniella appeared in a television commercial for Aquafina bottled water in which he parodies his famous June 2, 2007 meltdown at Wrigley Field.

Piniella and Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillén appeared in one commercial to advertise a local car dealership during the first half of the 2008 Crosstown series. The creators of the commercial used their likeness in three other commercials, which featured stunt doubles riding bicycles and jumping rope.[49]

In 2009, Piniella did a commercial for DirecTV and in 2018, commercials in the Seattle area for Sustainable Housing for Ageless Generations (SHAG), formerly Senior Housing Assistance Group, a non-profit senior citizen affordable living organization.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Bamberger, Michael (March 3, 2003). "Safe At Home". Sports Illustrated. p. 56.
  2. ^ Deford, Frank (March 5, 2007). "episode 120". Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. HBO.
  3. ^ "Jewish Calendar 1943 Diaspora - Hebcal". www.hebcal.com.
  4. ^ Deford, Frank (March 19, 2001). "Sweet & Lou". Sports Illustrated. p. 88.
  5. ^ McEwen, Tom (July 20, 2010). "West Tampa Lou ready to return". Tampa Bay Online. Archived from the original on July 29, 2010. Retrieved October 17, 2010.
  6. ^ Isaacson, Melissa (August 30, 2010). "Lou Piniella was born into baseball". ESPN.com. Retrieved October 17, 2010.
  7. ^ Mitchell, Fred; David Kaplan (April 15, 2010). "MLB honors Jackie Robinson". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
  8. ^ Kay, Michael (October 17, 1990). "Hot-tempered Lou always had big plans for the majors". The Day. New London, Connecticut. (New York Daily News). p. E8.
  9. ^ Scanlon, Dick (June 17, 2005). "Rays to face NL-leading Cards". The Ledger. Lakeland, Florida. p. C5.
  10. ^ Price, S.L. (October 16, 1990). "29 years later". Toledo Blade. Knight-Ridder. p. 24.
  11. ^ Bender, Bob (March 29, 1972). "Piniella faces important year". St. Petersburg Times. p. 3C.
  12. ^ "Radcliff hits 40 as Greenies defeat Jesuit". St. Petersburg Times. February 17, 1960. p. C1.
  13. ^ "Dunedin bows 65-35 to Jesuit". St. Petersburg Times. December 10, 1960. p. 3C.
  14. ^ "King to appear with South five". St. Petersburg Independent. Associated Press. May 10, 1961. p. 9A.
  15. ^ a b Scanlon, Dick (October 29, 2002). "Piniella set to captain Devil Rays' shaky ship". The Ledger. Lakeland, Florida. p. A1.
  16. ^ "Lou recalls signing day". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. September 10, 2003. p. 6C.
  17. ^ Jones, Tom (August 13, 2003). "Lou sees Nettles as model for Sandberg". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved September 16, 2021.
  18. ^ "Royals, Pilots swap players". St. Petersburg Times. Associated Press. April 2, 1969. p. 2C.
  19. ^ James, Bill (1986). The Bill James Baseball Abstract 1987. Ballantine Books. p. 46.
  20. ^ "Piniella signs new contract with Yanks". Evening News. (Newburgh, New York). Associated Press. October 11, 1986. p. 2B.
  21. ^ a b c d e f "Lou Piniella". Baseball Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved September 24, 2015.
  22. ^ a b "Lou Piniella named Reds manager". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. November 3, 1989. Retrieved June 29, 2018.
  23. ^ Chass, Murray (February 22, 1993). "BASEBALL; A Sweet Lou Primer On Marge and Loyalty". The New York Times – via NYTimes.com.
  24. ^ "Piniella says he won't be back with Reds". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. October 7, 1992. Retrieved June 29, 2018.
  25. ^ "Mariners have new owner as sale completed". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. July 2, 1992. p. C3.
  26. ^ a b Finnigan, Bob (November 10, 1992). "Piniella takes Mariners' helm". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). (Seattle Times). p. C1.
  27. ^ a b Cour, Jim (November 10, 1992). "Piniella faces his biggest challenge". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. (Idaho-Washington). Associated Press. p. 1B.
  28. ^ Thiel, Art. "Ellis issued challenge, and M's got their leader", Seattle Post-Intelligencer, September 24, 2003. Accessed August 21, 2011. "By the time they returned to their Allendale, N.J., home, he was ready to say no -- perhaps because that was the word that Anita pounded into his ear on the flight. 'No, no, no, no, no,' Piniella recalled her saying. 'She said, 'You're not going to Seattle. Just get that totally out of your mind.' Her reasons were obvious: Too far from home, and spring training was in Arizona instead of Florida."
  29. ^ "Plummer, all coaches fired by M's". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. October 14, 1992. p. C1.
  30. ^ "AMERICAN LEAGUE: ROUNDUP; Victory No. 1,000 for Piniella". The New York Times. August 19, 1999.
  31. ^ Withers, Tom (October 29, 2002). "Four baseball teams settle on new skippers". The Argus-Press. Oswosso, Michigan. Associated Press. p. 10.
  32. ^ a b Scanlon, Dick (October 29, 2002). "Piniella set to captain Devil Rays' shaky ship". Lakeland Ledger. (Florida). p. A1.
  33. ^ Scanlon, Dick (September 22, 2005). "Report: Piniella gone in '06". Lakeland Ledger. (Florida). p. C1.
  34. ^ "Devil Rays buy out Piniella's final season for $2.2M". ESPN. Associated Press. September 30, 2005. Retrieved June 29, 2018.
  35. ^ Scanlon, Dick (October 1, 2005). "Piniella out after 2005 season". Lakeland Ledger. (Florida). p. C1.
  36. ^ Cubs come to terms with Piniella, MLB.com.
  37. ^ "Manager of the Year Award | Baseball Almanac". www.baseball-almanac.com.
  38. ^ "Chicago Tribune's Blog".
  39. ^ Madden, Bill (July 20, 2010). "Lou Piniella, former Yankees manager and player, will retire as manager of Cubs at end of season". New York: Nydailynews.com. Retrieved August 22, 2010.
  40. ^ Lacques, Gabe (January 8, 2010). "Outgoing Cubs manager Lou Piniella: 'This will be the last time I put on a uniform'". Content.usatoday.com. Retrieved August 22, 2010.
  41. ^ "Lou Piniella to help Giants". February 2, 2011.
  42. ^ Shea, John (February 1, 2011). "Sweet Lou joining the champs". The San Francisco Chronicle.
  43. ^ a b Raissman, Bob (February 2, 2012). "It's official: Sweet Lou joins YES Network". The New York Daily News. Retrieved July 4, 2012.
  44. ^ Kercheval, Nancy (February 23, 2012). "Lou Piniella Joins Yankees YES Television Network as Special Contributor". Bloomberg.
  45. ^ "Mrs. Piniella: She, too, has managed". products.kitsapsun.com.
  46. ^ "Lou Piniella back to work for Cincinnati Reds after a mini-stroke", February 23, 2018 (Retrieved December 10, 2018).
  47. ^ "Ten Named to Today's Game Era Ballot for National Baseball Hall of Fame Consideration". Baseball Hall of Fame. October 3, 2016. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  48. ^ Ackert, Kristie (December 9, 2018). "George Steinbrenner, Lou Piniella both fall short in Hall of Fame bids". NYDailyNews.com. New York Daily News. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  49. ^ Lazare, Lewis (June 18, 2008). "Pinch runners cover bases for Lou, Ozzie". Chicago Sun-Times.