After two brief leaves of absence, Cubs manager and long-time Mariners skipper Lou Piniella announced today he would manage the Cubs game - then retire immediately.
While he acknowledged family issues forced the decision, what he didn't say was that his mother is ill and she's unlikely to recover. Piniella wants to be with her, and staying wih Chicago would have made that impossible.
With Sweet Lou's departure, the game loses one of its great, genuine characters - a man whose fierce will and larger-than-life personality produced laughter and loyalty in all around him.
Piniella has been in professional baseball since being drafted by Cleveland in 1963, and played his first big-league game in 1964. Now 67, he played for Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City and New York - then managed the Yankees, Reds, Mariners, Rays and Cubs.
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In that remarkable career, Piniella was an All-Star, won three World Series titles as a player, anothe as a manager - and was named manager of the year three times while ranking 14th in managerial wins, all-time.
Piniella began managing Seattle in 1993 and got the Marienrs to their first post-season in 1995, then to playoff appearances in 1997, 2000 and 2001. When he left Seattle, afer the 2002 season, he had won a club-record 840 games and put together a .542 winning percentage.
He remains the only manager in Seattle history to win more games than he lost.