Lou Piniella, 42, succeeded Billy Martin as manager of the New York Yankees yesterday. It was the fourth time the team had fired Martin and its 14th managerial change since George Steinbrenner took over the team in 1973.
But Steinbrenner had insisted that he would have "no input" about who would manage in 1986. News of the appointment came when the team's general manager, Clyde King, called World Series headquarters in Kansas City from Yankee Stadium. Steinbrenner was in Florida.
Reached there by telephone later, Steinbrenner said: "The reason I took myself out of this thing was because I was simply fed up with everything that happened with Billy after the season. The barroom stuff was bad enough, but then he demanded to renegotiate his contract and made it sound like I was ungrateful to him. Who else brought him back to manage four times? Who else paid half of his hotel bills that weren't paid? Who else gave him a $200,000 loan to pay his back income taxes? He tried to call my bluff and this is what has happened. I'm sorry it happened, but I just got fed up."
King said Piniella, an outfielder with the team for 11 years, has a one-year contract. Piniella admitted: "I know this is a tough job. My God, it wasn't easy to play here!"
Martin has two years left on his contract as Steinbrenner's "special assistant." King could not confirm that Martin knew he'd been fired. When asked about Martin's status, King replied, "I have no idea."