Former Cubs recall their favorite Lou Piniella stories
Anyone who has played for him has a story about him.
Heck, anyone who has met Lou Piniella has a tale. But when you’ve played for “Sweet Lou”, you’re bound to have some gems. Just like former Cub Derrek Lee.
His favorite story came after a big day for former infielder Mike Fontenot. He had a 5-hit game and drove in the winning run in a game. But the best part of the story came after the game.
“So, I’m coming out of the shower and our bullpen catcher Corey’s coming out of the shower, Lou’s walking by in his shorts and he goes, ‘Hey, son. Heck of a game,’” Lee recalled on a recent episode of Icons of the Ivy on Marquee Sports Network. “To our bullpen catcher. And Corey doesn’t say anything.”
Miller, who’s locker was near Ryan Dempster’s turned to Dempster after the interaction.
“’I think Lou thinks I’m Fontenot,’” Miller told Dempster.
It wasn’t the only story that stems from a shower interaction.
Kerry Wood, when he was serving as the Cubs closer was brought in once in a non-save situation. He allowed a home run, but the Cubs still won the game. Afterwards, Wood went into the Cubs dugout and threw his glove.
Wood was called into Piniella’s office after the moment and the pair had what Wood called a “heated discussion” where Piniella called Wood “Son.”
“I said don’t call me ‘Son,’” Wood said.
The next day, Piniella calls Wood back into his office. Wood walks into his office and Piniella is fresh out of the shower, still wet and in just a towel.
“And he’s like, ‘Son — I mean Kerry — come here,’” Wood said. “And he gives me a hug. I’m hugging Lou Piniella and his towel’s barely on and he’s soaking wet. It was the weirdest moment of my career. But we were fine after that.
“And he’s like, ‘you’re a good kid, son — I mean Kerry.’”
Dempster had plenty of fun interactions with Piniella. As a starting pitcher, he spent a lot of time in the dugout with Piniella and saw his mannerisms firsthand.
“I had four days where it was like taking an improv class because you didn’t know what lou was going to say,” Dempster said.
But his favorite story stems from a bullpen move that Piniella did. During a game, he brought in reliever Bob Howry. The catcher at the time called for sliders from Howry and Howry gave up a hit. After the inning, Piniella went up to Howry.
“He says … ‘If I wanted sliders, I would have brought [Michael] Wuertz in. I wanted fastballs,’” Dempster said.