Lou Piniella led the Cincinnati Reds to glory in 1990 as the manager during the team’s last World Series championship. The franchise is reportedly bringing him back in 2016, albeit in a different fashion.
The Reds announced the news on Twitter:
John Fay of WCPO.com said the former manager will spend time with the Reds at spring training. Fay also made sure to mention this likely isn’t the next step to a managing job for the 72-year-old baseball legend: “Talked to Lou at Redsfest about this. I would be stunned if this led to him managing.”
While Piniella played in the majors for 18 years (11 of which came for the New York Yankees), he is likely most known for his days as a manager, at least among recent generations of baseball fans.
He only managed the Reds from 1990-92, but the team won at least 90 games in two of those three seasons and captured the World Series crown. Piniella also managed the New York Yankees from 1986-88, the Seattle Mariners from 1993-2002, the Tampa Bay Rays from 2003-05 and the Chicago Cubs from 2007-10.
He was revered for his fiery personality and was never afraid to let an umpire know what he thought about a particular call. Instances of him kicking dirt, throwing bases and tossing his cap during arguments have gone down in baseball lore, and he is still a fan favorite in Cincinnati 24 years after his last season as manager there.
Piniella even drew cheers when he returned to the Queen City as manager of the division-rival Chicago Cubs, and he inked a thank you letter to the Cincinnati fans in 2015 during the team’s celebration of its 1990 crown. Fay passed the entire letter along, including the section that said, “And To the fans…what would a team be without your support, your encouragement, your love. Thank you for all of that and a lot more.”
As a player, Piniella had one at-bat in 1964 for the Baltimore Orioles and then appeared for the Cleveland Indians in 1968, the Kansas City Royals from 1969-73 and the Yankees from 1974-84. He won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1969 with a .282 batting average, 11 home runs and 68 RBI in 135 games, and he made his lone All-Star Game in 1972 with a .312 batting average.
Piniella also won back-to-back World Series titles with the Bronx Bombers in 1977 and 1978.
While he won’t serve in a managing capacity for the Reds with this latest hire, he has been around the game of professional baseball for more than 50 years. He understands the daily grind from a player’s and coach’s perspective, has reached the mountaintop multiple times and can offer his expertise to various decisions, including player evaluation.
The Reds are likely headed for some lean rebuilding years in the daunting National League Central, with the Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates all coming off postseason appearances. Having someone like Piniella as an advisor for critical decisions should help accelerate that process as the Reds add important pieces to their club.