7/13 In memorium

Lou Piniella and George Steinbrenner had their share of run-ins, but the former Yankees player and manager had nothing but respect for “The Boss,” who passed away Tuesday.

“George was like a father figure to me,” Piniella said in a statement issued by the Cubs. “He treated me well, he treated me fair and he gave me a wonderful opportunity to play and manage the game we all love.”

Piniella played for Steinbrenner and the Yankees from 1974-84, winning World Series rings in 1977 and ’78, and managed the team in 1986, ’87 and ’88, although not without some interruptions. Steinbrenner fired him twice, replacing Piniella with Billy Martin, then rehired “Sweet Lou.”

Piniella guided the Cincinnati Reds to the World Series championship in 1990, sweeping the Oakland Athletics. Piniella reportedly said after the triumph: “See, George, I can manage.”

Despite their differences at times, Steinbrenner respected Piniella as well.

“I don’t know if I’ve had another player who cared so much,” Steinbrenner said in a 2001 Sports Illustrated article by Frank Deford about Piniella. “Such instinct and desire.”

“George will be remembered as one of the most influential and renowned owners of a franchise in sports history,” Piniella said in the statement released Tuesday. “He leaves a legacy of winning and an unwavering passion for success.

“My wife Anita and I send our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the Steinbrenner family and the Yankees organization,” Piniella said. “George was very special to me and I loved him.”

– Carrie Muskat

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