Lou Piniella Hall of Fame Luncheon
Photo captured by Steven Smith. View the complete photo album here.
Bound for Mariners Hall, Piniella reflects on tenure
Skipper set to be inducted in pregame ceremony at Safeco Field on Saturday
By Greg Johns / MLB.com | 8/8/2014 8:39 P.M. ET
SEATTLE — An emotional Lou Piniella teared up at times during his Mariners Hall of Fame luncheon on Friday at Safeco Field, as the franchise’s winningest manager prepared to be inducted into its exclusive club on Saturday.
“It makes me proud in a very humble way,” said Piniella, who managed and worked with most of the seven other members of the team’s Hall of Fame during his decade of excellence in Seattle.
“I’m always thrilled to think about the memories and the fun we had for 10 years,” said Piniella, now 70 and retired in Florida. “It was a magical 10 seasons for me.”
Piniella will be formally inducted into the Mariners Hall at Safeco Field in a ceremony starting at 5:30 p.m. PT, prior to the Mariners’ 6:10 p.m. game against the White Sox.
“It’s going to be hard for me, it really is, because these fans were just wonderful,” Piniella said after Friday’s luncheon. “They were so supportive and they played such an integral part in the success we had here. We led the Major Leagues in attendance here a few years in Seattle, and that speaks volumes.
“I was fortunate,” he said. “They liked me and supported me and supported our team. It’s so much more fun when you go into a ballpark packed with people as opposed to half empty. It’s so much more fun to play and the competitive juices come out more. It’s going to be hard for me. I’ll tell a few stories and try to keep it light, but it’s not easy. I’m not the best speaker in the world as it is and I am emotional. So it’s easy for me to get teary-eyed.”
Piniella warmed up for that reception at Friday’s luncheon, tears filling his eyes as he thanked “the best fans in baseball” and said his family “simply fell in love with Seattle” after expressing initial reluctance at his decision to take a job across the country for a franchise that had never been to the playoffs and had just one winning season prior to his arrival in 1993.