“My wife Mary Ryan Hirsch and I have been hosting ‘Horsemen’s Dinners’ in south Florida the past several years.  At one of our get-togethers, noted racetrack announcer extraordinaire Larry Collmus got up and told this story from 1996 about Major League Baseball manager ‘Sweet’ Lou Piniella.

At the time Lou was manager of the Seattle Mariners. The club was in Boston to play the Red Sox at Fenway Park.  On the day of a Saturday game, the great racehorse Cigar, trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, was running in the Mass Cap at nearby Suffolk Downs just outside Boston. Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey was riding him.

The Mariners/Red Sox game was scheduled to start at 1 p. m.  As is customary before the first pitch, the teams’ managers are required to walk out to the home plate umpire and hand over their respective line-up cards. 

After Piniella walked a few steps away from the umpire, he did an about-face and returned to speak privately to the ump.  He told the ump that sometime in the first inning, when the Mariners were batting, Lou would run out of his dugout and fiercely argue ‘balls and strikes,’ something that is an automatic ejection.  Lou went on to tell the umpire that while he was arguing he wanted to be thrown out of the game.  

In bewilderment, the ump asked Lou, ‘Why are you doing this?’  Lou told the ump that Cigar was running in the Mass Cap at Suffolk and that Lou had arranged a waiting limo to drive him to Suffolk Downs so he could see Cigar run.

‘Sweet’ Lou and MLB umpires mixed like oil and water.

Sure enough, after a close pitch Lou ran out of his dugout and was screaming and flailing his arms and quarreling that the pitch was not a strike on his hitter. He did his customary antic of kicking the dirt at the umpire and soon, as expected, the umpire threw Lou out of the game.

Lou changed clothes in the limo and got to Suffolk Downs in plenty of time to see his beloved Cigar win the Mass Cap.”


Lou Piniella was ejected from 63 games during his career, placing him at number 12 on the list of most ejected managers in MLB history. Another former MLB manager and racehorse owner, Joe Torre, is number 11 on the list with 66 career ejections.

Bill Hirsch is a retired racehorse trainer and the son and grandson of Hall of Fame trainers William Hirsch and Max Hirsch.

Horse Racing Business 2020