Lou To Be Inducted To Mariners Hall of Fame
For 10 seasons the Emerald City watched the Seattle Mariners, win or lose, under Lou Piniella’s leadership. Given his success of getting the M’s to the playoffs on several occasions it’s only fitting that this Saturday he becomes the first Seattle Mariner’s skipper inducted into the Mariner’s Hall of Fame.
No other skipper in Seattle Mariners history has had the success that “Sweet” Lou enjoyed through most of the ’90s and into the early 2000s.
Lou captured Seattle’s heart with his fiery attitude, savvy managing style and most certainly with his very boisterous on field arguments with umpires.
To celebrate, I’ll remind you of a few of my favorite Lou Piniella stories.
Whenever you bring up the Mariner’s 1995 season most people remember the crazy run the Mariners went on during August and September to squeak their way into the post season for the very first time. What about spring training that year however?
During the spring, Ken Griffey Jr. made a bet with Piniella as to how far he could hit a ball during batting practice. The bet was for a steak dinner. Of course Griffey won the bet and he paid off his debt, sort of.
A few hours later Piniella entered his office to find a cow in front of his desk. Not a toy, not a steak on a plate, a real, live, stinky and mooing cow. Lou was absolutely flabbergasted.
Lou let out a moan and a “Oh, C’mon!”. Of course, everyone else thought it was hilarious, including me. Lou was a good sport though. He started mooing back to the cow.
Mound Pep Talks
In 1997 the Mariners were just a couple years removed from their most exciting season ever. They would eventually capture their 2nd divisional crown that year but not without a few struggles along the way.
You also have to understand that Lou, for all his greatness, was not always well thought of by pitchers, even the veteran ones as he was very tough on pitchers who were struggling with command. One of Lou’s pitcher’s that year included Jamie Moyer.
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 snapped 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. Nice pep talk, eh?
Trips and Falls
In the first full season at Safeco Field the new style dugouts took some getting used to for Lou. You see, the Kingdome had dugouts, they just weren’t “dug out” like they are at Safeco.
There were no actual steps one had to climb to come out of the dugout at the Kingdome. At Safeco, the traditional and safer dugout was constructed with several steps down to the bench from the field, or at least Lou thought they were safer.
I can’t remember the game but I do know there was a play at 2nd base that Lou didn’t like at all. He came racing out of the dugout to argue only to fall flat on his face trying to traverse those new steps.
It’s pretty tough to put on a kicking and screaming show with bloody knees and everyone already laughing at you. Lou still got out there and made sure the umpire knew what he thought of the call though.
The best part of the whole thing though was Lou’s post game comment when asked about his trip while trying to navigate those stairs. Lou quipped, “I just don’t have that first step explosion anymore”.
I imagine Lou got fined in Kangaroo court pretty good for that one.
Congratulations on making the Mariner’s Hall of Fame Lou. Also, thanks for all you did for baseball in Seattle. We might not have the game here anymore if not for you.
Next stop, Cooperstown.