In the Yankees’ championship teams of the 70s, the two guys that were always together were Thurman Munson and Lou Piniella.
Lou could egg Thurman on and get a roar from the team. Thurman, may I add, would love it. It was an act that should’ve been in Las Vegas. All kidding aside, these two men were truly like brothers. Thurman and Bobby Murcer were also very close. When the Yanks traded Murcer to the San Francisco Giants in 1975, having Piniella there made that situation easier for Thurman to deal with.
Lou was a great hitter who also acted as an honorary hitting coach because he knew hitting so well. He could talk about hitting for hours with anyone that would listen.
The thing that I will always remember about Lou in that era was that he was truly the guy that kept the clubhouse loose. He could tell the greatest and funniest stories or he could just be a good friend. When Reggie Jackson was upset and took it personal that he wasn’t batting cleanup, it was Lou and Thurman Munson that went to George Steinbrenner to try to clean up that mess. On the road whereever Lou was, Thurman was. Anytime I had a chance to hangout with them I took it because I knew it would be a blast.
I will never forget that when Thurman decided to buy his airplane, Lou was not happy at all. However, Thurman was always his own man and nobody was gonna tell him what to do. When we lost Thurman in that airplane accident, Piniella was so emotionally and physically shaken after delivering a powerful and heartfelt eulogy, that he couldn’t play when we got back to Yankee Stadium from the funeral. When Bobby Murcer incredibly drove in all 5 runs to beat the Orioles that night 5-4, you would catch a glimpse of Piniella and Murcer hugging and crying at the end of the dugout.
On February 4th The Thurman Munson Foundation will be honoring Lou with the Thurman Munson Championship award.
It is so appropriate because on the 40th anniversary of this Munson Awards dinner it should go to Thurman’s best friend. Not only because of how close they were but also because, whether as a player or a Manager, Lou was always truly a champion. He wasn’t known as “Sweet Lou” for nothing. He is truly a very sweet man who I have never heard anyone utter a negative word about.
To say that George Steinbrenner loved Lou would be one of the biggest understatements of all time. As far as the Boss was concerned, Lou could almost walk on water. That’s a story for another day.
The Dinner will be at “Pier Sixty,” Chelsea Piers in New York. The award is presented for on field excellence and community service.
This is all a part of the AHRC New York City Foundation, which is a family governed organization committed to finding ways for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to build full lives as defined by each person and supported by dedicated families, staff, and community partners. AHRC New York City touches the lives of over 15,000 individuals throughout the five boroughs. The organization that created the first schools, workshops, day treatment programs, services, and supports tailored to meet specific needs.
I will also be looking forward to seeing Nancy Lieberman, who is known as Lady Magic for her prowess on the basketball court and Gleyber Torres, the Yankee Phenomenon who is loved for what he does off the field just as much as what he does on.