January 19, 2013

Fiery Orioles manager Earl Weaver dead at 82

By DAVID GINSBURG, The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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In this June 26, 2010 file photo, former Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver waves to the crowd after taking the lineup card out before the start of a baseball game between the Orioles and Washington Nationals, in Baltimore, as members of the Orioles' 1970 team were honored before the start of the game. Weaver, the fiery Hall of Fame manager who won 1,480 games with the Baltimore Orioles, has died, the team announced on Saturday. He was 82.

AP

Orioles programs sold at the old Memorial Stadium frequently featured photos of Weaver squabbling.

He was ejected 91 times, including once in both games of a doubleheader.

Asked once if his reputation might have harmed his chances to gain entry into the Hall of Fame, Weaver admitted, "It probably hurt me."

Not for long. He entered the hall in 1996.

"When you discuss our game's motivational masters, Earl is a part of that conversation," Baseball Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson said. "He was a proven leader in the dugout and loved being a Hall of Famer. Though small in stature, he was a giant as a manager."

His ejections were overshadowed by his five 100-win seasons, six AL East titles and four pennants. Weaver was inducted 10 years after he managed his final game with Baltimore at the end of an ill-advised comeback.

In 1985, the Orioles' owner at the time, Edward B. Williams, coaxed Weaver away from golf to take over a struggling squad. Weaver donned his uniform No. 4, which had already been retired by the team, and tried to breathe some life into the listless Orioles.

Baltimore went 53-52 over the last half of the 1985 season, but finished seventh in 1986 with a 73-89 record. It was Weaver's only losing season as a major-league manager, and he retired for good after that.

"If I hadn't come back," Weaver said after his final game, "I would be home thinking what it would have been like to manage again. I found out it's work."

Weaver finished with a 1,480-1,060 record. He won Manager of the Year three times.

"I had a successful career, not necessarily a Hall of Fame career, but a successful one," he said.

Weaver came to the Orioles as a first base coach in 1968, took over as manager on July 11 and went on to become the winningest manager in the history of the franchise.

"Earl was such a big part of Orioles baseball and personally he was a very important part of my life and career and a great friend to our family," Hall of Fame shortstop Cal Ripken said. "His passion for the game and the fire with which he managed will always be remembered by baseball fans everywhere and certainly by all of us who had the great opportunity to play for him. Earl will be missed but he can't and won't be forgotten."

He knew almost everything about the game. He was also a great judge of human character, and that's one of the main reasons why he was loved by a vast majority of his players even though he often rode them mercilessly from spring training into October.

"Did we have a love-hate relationship? Yes," Palmer said at Saturday's event. "Did he shake my hand after I would win? No. Because he didn't want to be my best friend. At the time maybe I resented that. But I've gotten over it."

Pat Dobson, who died in 2006, pitched two seasons under Weaver.

"Certainly, the years I played for him were the two most enjoyable years I've had," he said.

During games Weaver smoked cigarettes in the tunnel leading to the dugout and he never kicked the habit. He suffered a mild heart attack in August 1998, and the Orioles' manager at the time, Ray Miller, wondered aloud how his mentor was holding up.

"I wouldn't want to talk to him if he hasn't had a cigarette in 10 days," Miller joked. "They've probably got him tied to a chair."

Weaver was a brilliant manager, but he never made it to the majors as a player. He finally quit after spending 13 years as a second baseman in the St. Louis organization.

"He talked about how he could drive in 100 runs a year, score 100 runs and never make an error," said Davey Johnson, who played under Weaver in the minor leagues and with the Orioles from 1965 to 1972. "He said he never got to the big leagues because the Cardinals had too many good players in front of him."

He still made his mark on the big leagues.

"No one managed a ballclub or pitching staff better than Earl," said Johnson, who manages the Washington Nationals, and ran the Orioles from 1996-97. "He was decades ahead of his time. Not a game goes by that I don't draw on something Earl did or said. I will miss him every day."

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