Former Tigers, Marlins, Rockies and Pirates manager Jim Leyland was elected to the Hall of Fame Sunday by the Contemporary Era Committee, considering several candidates from 1980 to the present. Congratulations to Leyland, who got 15 of the 16 possible votes.
Former Cubs manager Lou Piniella came up short of induction by one vote, receiving 11. Twelve were needed for induction. It’s the second time Lou has come up just short of induction by an Era Committee.
While there’s no doubt Leyland had a terrific managerial career, winning three league pennants, 1,769 games and a World Series with the Marlins in 1997, I think Piniella’s managerial career measures up well to that one. Lou had seven postseason appearances and one pennant and World Series, with the Reds in 1990.
Piniella managed in all or part of 23 major league seasons and recorded 1,835 wins, which ranks 17th all-time.
Lou managed the Cubs from 2007-10, and in that time led the team to two N.L. Central titles. While neither of those wound up in a World Series win — in fact, neither wound up in a single postseason win — the 2007-08 Cubs provided some very exciting baseball.
What differentiates Piniella from Leyland is the fact that Lou was a very good player in the major leagues for a long time, while Leyland never played in the majors. Piniella played 18 seasons, mostly for the Royals and Yankees, and was American League Rookie of the Year in 1969 as a Royal. He hit 102 home runs and had 1,705 hits, was a key contributor to five postseason teams and won two World Series rings as a player in 1977 and 1978.
Piniella now has to wait three more years until possible induction, as the Hall’s Era Committees rotate. Truth be told, I wrote a lot of this a couple of days ago anticipating that Lou would be elected, so you’re going to get to read the following anyway.
If I can be a bit jocular for a moment, Piniella provided some moments of levity in some of his postgame pressers when he became exasperated with some reporters’ questions. Quotes such as “Look, what do you want me to do?,” “You saw the damn game!” and “What kind of baseball do you play?” will forever be part of Cubs lore.
The photo at the top of this post was taken June 2, 2007, after a close play at third base went against the Cubs. Piniella admitted later that he knew umpire Mark Wegner was right, he just wanted to fire up his team, mired nine games under .500 after they lost that day. It might have worked — the Cubs won 17 of their next 25, culminating with Aramis Ramirez’ famous walkoff homer June 29, 2007 against the Brewers.
They’d go on to move into first place with a 17-9 July (that’s 35-18 after Lou’s tirade) and went on to the N.L. Central championship.
Here are the members of the Era Committee who decided among the nominees on this year’s ballot:
Hall of Fame members Jeff Bagwell, Tom Glavine, Chipper Jones, Bud Selig, Ted Simmons, Jim Thome and Joe Torre; major league executives Sandy Alderson, Bill DeWitt, Michael Hill, Ken Kendrick, Andy MacPhail and Phyllis Merhige; and veteran media members/historians Sean Forman, Jack O’Connell and Jesus Ortiz.
No question, Jim Leyland is a deserving Hall of Famer. I only wish Lou Piniella was going to join him at next summer’s induction ceremony Sunday, July 21, 2024 in Cooperstown, and anyone elected from the BBWAA ballot will also be inducted then. Results of the BBWAA ballot will be announced in a live MLB Network broadcast at 5 p.m. CT. Tuesday, January 23.