Lou Piniella to be inducted into the M’s Hall of Fame
The announcement was quick and given with little fan fare, but in case you missed it, the Seattle Mariners announced that on Aug. 9, 2014, “Sweet Lou” Louis Victor Piniella will be inducted into the M’s Hall of Fame.
Piniella joins seven other members of the club as the only coach and the second non-player to be enshrined. Other members include Alvin Davis, Dave Niehaus, Jay Buhner, Edgar Martinez, Randy Johnson, Dan Wilson and Ken Griffey Jr.
In addition to his fiery antics when umpires’ calls didn’t go his way, Piniella was a beat writer’s dream. He was funny, articulate and always gave us plenty to write about even when the M’s weren’t playing their best, which in his days, was not as often as it is now.
One of My Favorite Piniella Moments
It was 1997. Seattle was only two years removed from the 1995 savior season and was on its way to its second AL West Divisional Championship in franchise history.
It was late in the summer, part of the stretch drive to the postseason, and Jamie Moyer was on the hill.
I don’t remember exactly who the M’s were playing, but I do remember that Moyer was not having a particularly good day. He was clinging to a one-run lead and had just walked yet another man to load the bases. This was also during a time where Seattle’s bullpen was struggling with its command, and Piniella was very reluctant to go to his bullpen.
Piniella appeared out of the dugout, called timeout, and walked up to Moyer. As Moyer tells the story, Piniella simply asked him if he was okay. Moyer, a bit perplexed, said, “Yah, I’m fine, skip.” Piniella simply quipped back, “YAH, WELL I’M NOT!” spun on his heels and stomped back to his dugout.
The encounter left Moyer doing his best to hold back a big smile and giggle, which of course was the subject of Moyer’s post-game interview. Old school ladies and gentleman, that’s as old school as it gets. How do you not love this guy?
Everyone Has Their Flaws
Piniella was not without his flaws, however. His old-school ways and fiery temper were especially tough on young players coming up from the minors. Piniella and his staff were accused more than once of burning out young players, especially young pitchers.
The veterans loved him, though. He had their backs no matter what. If you were a vet on a Piniella team and thought you beat the throw to second, Piniella was the first guy telling the umpire he must have pig crap in his eyes. *Ok, maybe he didn’t use the word “crap.” I try to keep this column rated PG.
As arguments with umpires would rage on, eventually leading to his ejection, Piniella would frequently put on a show of dirt kicking, base throwing, or hat slamming. His players? Well, they sat in the dugout with big smiles trying to choke back the laughter.
All Good Things Must Come to an End
It was a sad day in history when on Oct. 29, 2002, just one season after setting the single-season wins record, Seattle essentially traded Piniella for outfielder Randy Winn.
The trade marked the end of an era.
Piniella wanted to be closer to home managing the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The Mariners were never the same team again, as Piniella’s departure marked the end of winning seasons for the M’s, even to this day.
Lou Piniella is not just a Mariners Hall of Famer. Sweet Lou should wind up in Cooperstown as well. The numbers speak for themselves.
As a player, in a 16-year career, he compiled a .291 batting average with 1,705 hits, 102 home runs, 305 doubles and 766 runs batted in. As a manager, Lou coached 23 seasons, 10 of which were in Seattle. He won a World Series with Cincinnati and six divisional titles while managing his teams to more than 1,800 total wins.
Here’s my favorite stat on Piniella: As a player, Lou had over 1500 hits (1705). As a manager, Lou won over 1800 games (1835). Only two others have ever had more than 1500 wins as a manager and 1500 hits as a player in baseball history. The other two? Joe Torre and Fred Clarke, both of whom are already in the hall of fame.
Send the man to Cooperstown. The Seattle hall will just have to do in the mean time.