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PINIELLA, UNFORESEEN MANAGER, SPEAKS

By Murray Chass

May 21, 2017

In his 18 years as a major league outfielder, 11 with the New York Yankees, Lou Piniella did not stand out as a candidate for a post-career job as a manager. His most outstanding attribute was his consistency for his honesty and his candor. (How often do you find a manager who is honest and candid?)

Probably the best example of that Piniella trait came at the height of the Yankees’ firestorm of George and Billy and Reggie. The owner, the manager and the superstar were constantly saying insulting things about each other that required responses from the others.

In one instance, two reporters went to Piniella at his locker at Yankee Stadium and asked him about something that one or two of the tragic trio had said. We offered to keep his response anonymous if he preferred.

“If you don’t use my name, don’t use what I say,” Piniella remarked in a stunning and unexpected response.

Piniella, who retired after 23 years as a manager with five different teams, has written a book with Bill Madden, a veteran baseball writer (“Lou…” HarperCollins). While Piniella’s career was interesting and productive, I found his opinions even more interesting. That they agree with mine could have something to do with that.

I knew Piniella from his first day with the Yankees in spring training of 1974. That was the day that Piniella met the Yankees’ new manager, Bill Virdon. It was not love at first sight, a development Piniella tells about in the book.

The players, Piniella writes, “quickly came to discover” that Virdon “was …

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KKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK

By Murray Chass

May 14, 2017

As the end of the 2002 season approached, the Milwaukee Brewers had a decision to make: Should they play their regular shortstop, Jose Hernandez, or should they bench him?

Hernandez was not injured, nor was he in a slump. Furthermore, with a 53-98 record the Brewers pretty much had locked up last place in the National League Central.

No, this was not about the Brewers generally but about Hernandez specifically. The shortstop had struck out 185 times the previous season, just missing Bobby Bonds’ major league record of 189, but now, with 11 games remaining, he had struck out 186 times and would almost certainly break the record if he played in the final games.

The Brewers, with Jerry Royster as the manager, decided to hold Hernandez for most of the remaining games. He played in four of the 11 games, struck out twice and finished with 188.

This scenario would not occur today. If strikeouts were undesirable and embarrassing then, they are …

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JUDGING A HITTER BEFORE THE YANKS’ JUDGE

By Murray Chass

May 8, 2017

Does anyone here remember Dino Restelli? Does anyone even know the name Dino Restelli?

I know that one, maybe two regular readers of this site remember Restelli and what he did, but otherwise I doubt that very many people recall the phenom who flashed through our young lives and burned up in space.

Nearly 70 years ago, Dino Paolo Restelli was Aaron Judge before Aaron Judge was Aaron Judge.

Son of immigrant Italian parents, Restelli was born in St. Louis in 1924, eight months before Yogi Berra and 17 months before Joe Garagiola were born there.

Berra and Garagiola grew up to have their own fame and success, but what Restelli did was unique. Restelli, whose family moved to the San Francisco Bay Area when he was 12 years old, stunned the baseball world in 1949 by …

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