Lou Piniella has played baseball across the county, but on Friday he sat down to meet fans young and old who lined up to meet him.
While he was here in town for Cubs-A-Palooza at Ticketreturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark, there were a lot of folks wearing New York Yankees hats in the crowd gathered to meet the baseball legend Friday evening.
“I am thrilled to be here, it’s a beautiful little ballpark,” said Piniella, who was also greeted by many Cubs fans. “Chicago, the city and Wrigley Field are special. And the Cubs, I didn’t realize how fanatical the Cubs fans were until I got there.”
Friday was Piniella’s first time in Myrtle Beach, but he spent some of his minor league years playing in North Carolina. An avid golfer and angler, Piniella said if it wasn’t for his family living in the Tampa area he would like to live in the Carolinas.
Starting his major league career in 1969 as rookie of the year with the Kansas City Royals, Piniella played 18 years in the major leagues through the 1970s, mostly as an left fielder for the New York Yankees.
For the Yankees, he was a part of two World Series-winning teams in 1977 and 1978.
Yet, he is perhaps most known for his time as a manager. He was the skipper for the New York Yankees, Cincinnati Reds, Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago Cubs. He was named manager of the year in 1995 (Mariners), 2001 (Mariners) and 2008 (Cubs).
In 1990, Piniella hoisted the World Series trophy again when he managed the Reds to a fall classic sweep of the Oakland Athletics. In 2001, he managed the Mariners team that went 116-46, which is tied with the Cubs for the most wins in a season.
“The Cubs did in 1908, we did it 2001,” he said. “116 games I don’t think, well it might happen again.”
A few years ago Piniella missed getting into the Baseball Hall of Fame as a manager by one vote. He has one more shot and is hopeful he gets in on a future ballot. Regardless, he said now the memories and friends he made during his time as a player and a manager is what he cares about most.
“In fact, I am going to Cooperstown next week. One of my players is being inducted, Edgar Martinez, great hitter. I’ve been fortunate, I’ve had about five or six Hall of Famers,” he said. “I missed by one vote, and I guess I get one more chance and we will see what happens. But what is important to me are the memories, the competition and the friends I’ve made.”