Piniella's impact felt across baseball world
Three-time manager of the year inspired with his dedication
Lou Piniella's retirement decision rippled throughout the baseball world on Tuesday, inspiring testimonials from managers all around the league.
Piniella, a three-time Manager of the Year who guided the Cincinnati Reds to the 1990 World Series title, inspired his peers near and far with his dedication to the game and the fiery manner in which he led his teams.
Mike Scioscia, manager of the Angels, may have said it better than any of his peers.
"Lou was ultra-competitive in every game," said Scioscia. "He had a high expectation for what he would bring as a player, and he had a high expectation for what a team should do on a daily basis. He's been a great voice in baseball for a long time, and I'm sure he'll continue to be that. He'll be missed. He's a terrific person. His competitive nature is something you could see on the field."
Piniella, who managed the Yankees, Reds, Mariners and Rays before his current stop with the Cubs, led his teams to 90 wins seven times in his 23-year managerial career and set the American League record with 116 wins in 2001 with Seattle. Piniella has managed a host of tremendous players in his career, and he helped some of them find their way in the Majors.
Alex Rodriguez, who played for Piniella for seven seasons, credited the manager with teaching him the game.
"I was very fortunate to have him as my first manager," said Rodriguez, who played for Piniella from 1994-2000. "I can't say enough good things about him. For me, I needed to have a disciplinarian like him, coming out of high school into the big leagues. It was exactly what I needed. I have a lot to be grateful and [am] appreciative of what he taught me."
And players weren't the only ones to get introspective in the wake of Piniella's decision. Joe Torre, former manager of the Yankees and current field boss of the Dodgers, lauded Piniella for a long and distinguished career. Torre said that he can remember saying he wouldn't manage past a certain age, but that circumstances have conspired to change his mind.
"I'm not sure what I'm going to do," said Torre, 70. "I'm not sure how much I want to work after this year. And that's what I have to figure out for myself with the help of my family. Because my family only really wants what I want because they don't want to have to hang around me if I'm miserable. Again, I'm not of a mind at this point in time to think I'm going to be doing this anywhere else."
Piniella, who will finish the season before calling it quits, managed a winning record with three of the four organizations that he worked for previously. Tampa Bay proved to be the lone exception, and Piniella never won more than 70 games with the Rays. He will be remembered for his World Series team, and also for building Seattle into a consistent winner.
"We're certainly going to miss a pioneer," said Texas manager Ron Washington. "He's a guy who played the game, won championships and influenced many players over the course of his career. He's very knowledgeable about the game. I certainly hope baseball doesn't lose him completely. I hope he stays in the game in some capacity. He has a lot to offer."
Added Reds manager Dusty Baker: "There's a time for us all. I'm a little bit surprised he announced it now. Everybody will step down sooner or later. In life, you're born, you live, reproduce if you're lucky enough and then die. It's pretty simple."
The news didn't come as a surprise to everyone, especially to people who had worked with him in previous stops. Jackie Moore, who served as Piniella's bench coach in Cincinnati and currently serves as bench coach for Texas, said that Piniella had mentioned retirement to him before. And in the next breath, Moore said he's not sure that Sweet Lou is gone for good.
"I talked to Lou after Spring Training and he mentioned that he was thinking about retiring," said Moore. "That's too bad because Lou is good for baseball. I know there was a lot of frustration and understandably so. [The Cubs] expected a lot better season. But here again, he needs to stay in baseball. He may need to take a year off to get a breath of fresh air, but I think he'll be back. Lou is like the rest of us. He gets frustrated and has his moments, but he lives it and breathes it. It's in his blood."
Joe Girardi, who played for the Cubs and now manages the Yankees, has his own sense of perspective. Girardi knows the pressure involved in both cities, and he marveled Tuesday at Piniella's ability to handle it.
"A tremendous manager who's done it for a long time at a very high level," said Girardi. "He's had great teams in both leagues. I was talking a little bit today about the bullpen he had with the Reds in 1990. They were called the Nasty Boys. They were filthy. He's accomplished a lot in his managerial career, and he's someone that you know people are going to talk about."
Said Toronto manager Cito Gaston: "I've been watching Lou the last couple of years, and he's looking like he's worn down. I love talking to him because he has so much energy all the time. ... Maybe he just had enough, but good for him."
Bobby Meacham, Houston's first-base coach, had plenty of memories of Piniella from his time with the Yankees.
"I played with him his last year, and he was my hitting coach for a little bit and was my manager two different times," said Meacham. "And he was the general manger when I was there also. Lou's a good guy. He used to get riled up out there. He's got the reputation for that, but the last couple of years he's calmed down and things have been even-keeled for him."
Rodriguez, a 13-time All-Star who is seventh on the all-time home run list, called Piniella a "Hall of Fame manager," and said that he's a rare version of a player who won titles and went on to do it as a manager.
"I have a lot of Lou stories, but I don't think I can share most of them with you," said Rodriguez. "They're pretty funny. For me, it was the tough love. I was sent down five times in one year, and I take that as a positive, because he kept believing in me and bringing me back up.
"Overall, to me, it was his passion and love for winning. He loved winning as much as breathing."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.