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Piniella eyes return to Yankee Stadium

Piniella eyes return to Yankee Stadium

CHICAGO -- Lou Piniella called Yankee Stadium home for several years, and on Tuesday, he'll have a chance to say goodbye.

The Cubs manager, who played for the Yankees from 1974-84 and managed the team from 1986-88, will be part of the National League coaching staff at Tuesday's All-Star Game.

It's a bittersweet assignment. On the one hand, Piniella is happy for the chance to take what he's calling a mini-vacation in New York. But he's replacing his former teammate Willie Randolph on the NL staff. Randolph was fired earlier this year from his job as the New York Mets manager.

Piniella, 64, won the World Series with the Yankees in 1977 and '78, and he has fond memories of his days in the Bronx.

"One thing you always remember are the players you played with on championship teams," Piniella said Saturday. "The other ones, you kind of forget them. When you play on championship teams, you become close.

"You also remember the stadium, and you remember the fans. It was packed. Yankee Stadium is as electric as any place in the world on an October afternoon or October evening. The place is hopping. It will be hard to replace that."

Piniella actually played his first two seasons with the Yankees at Shea Stadium because Yankee Stadium was being refurbished. He wasn't going to bring a pocket camera to snap photos of the old ballpark, but did plan on taking a tour of the new Yankee Stadium, to open in 2009.

"I'm curious to see how the new stadium is going to be," Piniella said. "Old Yankee Stadium, or refurbished Yankee Stadium, has so many good memories. The monuments out there, the short right-field porch, the old timers coming in for Old Timers Game, and sitting and talking to them in the clubhouse for hours. I remember Old Timers games -- I used to get there early so I could talk to Yankees greats.

"I'll remember the championships we won there. I remember [Chris] Chambliss hitting that home run against Kansas City [in 1976] to get us into the World Series, I remember Reggie [Jackson's] three home runs [in Game 6 of the '77 World Series], I remember [Graig] Nettles having that great day [in Game 3 of the '78 World Series]. It was a wonderful place."

After this season, Yankee Stadium will be gone.

"This [All-Star Game] is not going to be like a job for me -- I'll be on a little vacation," Piniella said. "It'll be nice to go back and see it one last time."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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