Piniella met with his team to let them know he was leaving and it was very emotional, despite the Cubs' terribly disappointing season - two years after they had the best record in the NL.
"I wish we would've played better for him," reliever Sean Marshall said.
"You hate to see stuff like that. You hate to see a grown man kind of tear up like that, it just shows his heart for winning and his drive for baseball and his family."
Piniella finished with an overall record was 1,835-1,713. He trailed only Tony La Russa, Cox and Joe Torre in victories among active managers.
Piniella's record with the Cubs was 316-293. Under the mellowed skipper, Chicago won consecutive NL Central titles in 2007-08, but missed the playoffs last year and slipped back even further this season with a new owner, Tom Ricketts, in charge.
"I've enjoyed it here," Piniella said. "In four wonderful years I've made a lot of friends and had some success here, this year has been a little bit of a struggle. But, look. Family is important, it comes first."
In 18 years in the majors as a player - he had a .291 career batting average - and another 23 as a manager, Piniella made five trips to the World Series and has three championship rings. He began his professional playing career in 1962.
"It's a very tough day for him, very emotional," Hendry said of the man he hired four years ago to replace Dusty Baker. "There has been some times the last couple of months where he knew his family was possibly going to need him. He certainly didn't want to go out before the end of the year, but it's just at the point now where he need to be home with his mother and his family."
Piniella began managing in 1986 with the Yankees and lasted three years, including a stint as general manager. He managed the Reds from 1990-92, leading them to a World Series championship in his first season. He also got national attention during his time there for a clubhouse wrestling match with reliever Rob Dibble, who downplayed the incident and said "we've been family ever since."
After Cincinnati, Piniella had a long run in Seattle, where his teams won at least 90 games four times and 116 in 2001. The three-time manager of the year also spent three seasons in Tampa Bay's dugout, but he questioned his hometown team's commitment to winning at the time before the team bought out the final year of his four-year contract.
The Cubs won 97 games under Piniella in 2008, but were swept out of the playoffs for the second straight year and it's been mostly downhill since that successful run.
What Chicago fans saw for the most part was a more reserved Piniella, although he did have one dirt-kicking meltdown with umpire Mark Wegner early in his first season and soon thereafter the Cubs took off and eventually overtook the Milwaukee Brewers to win the NL Central in 2007.
Piniella joined the Cubs after doing some TV work, looking for a final challenge and hoping - like so many before him - that he would be the manager to bring the Cubs a long-awaited championship. The Cubs' last World Series appearance came in 1945, their last World Series winner in 1908. It didn't happen, despite the promising first two seasons.
"It's a tough job. But, look. I mean. They're going to win here. They've got a family-owned business now," Piniella said.
Piniella said he would look back later. He added that he no future plans, other than to tend to his family and relax.
"I'll have plenty of time to reflect, I will," he said.
ATLANTA (AP) - Matt Harvey pitched six hitless innings, John Buck homered and the New York Mets held off another Atlanta comeback, beating the Braves 4-3 Tuesday in the first game of a doubleheader.
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