Rest In Peace – Hall Of Fame Manafer, Earl Weaver
From The Baltimore Sun
Hall of Famer Earl Weaver, the cantankerous baseball wizard who led the Orioles to the World Series in each of his first three full seasons as manager, died yesterday. He was 82.
Weaver died Friday night while on a cruise, according to Monica Barlow, the team’s public relations head.
The legendary Earl of Baltimore managed parts of 17 major league seasons in Baltimore and the Orioles failed to post a winning record under him only once (1986). His career was defined by an affinity for the three-run home run and a long-running, public feud with superstar pitcher Jim Palmer that both men jokingly played to whenever together.
Weaver was always a fan favorite and the Orioles faithful got several opportunities to let him know that during the course of the Orioles uplifting 2012 season. He returned to Baltimore repeatedly to take part in the special series of statue unveilings in the center field plaza at Oriole Park, including the one that was dedicated to him on June 30.
He showed his softer side during his acceptance speech, applauding all the great Orioles who also are immortalized in bronze there and a many more of the players who helped him become a managerial legend.
“What comes to mind is, ‘Thank God those guys were there and thank God we won 100 games three years in a row so I could come back for a fourth,” Weaver said. “And thank God for the fourth that won enough games for me to come back for the fifth … and on to 17.”
Weaver won six American League East titles, four pennants and one world title. His .583 career winning percentage ranks fifth among modern managers (since 1900) with at least 10 seasons in the major leagues. Factor in his reputation as one of the games great strategists and it’s no wonder that he was selected by the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee for induction at Cooperstown in 1996.
“Earl Weaver stands alone as the greatest manager in the history of the Orioles organization and one of the greatest in the history of baseball,” Orioles Managing Partner Peter Angelos said. “This is a sad day for everyone who knew him and for all Orioles fans. Earl made his passion for the Orioles known both on and off the field. On behalf of the Orioles, I extend my condolences to his wife, Marianna, and to his family.”
Palmer said that he heard of Weaver’s death at 3:30 a.m. Saturday from former Orioles pitcher Scotty McGregor. McGregor was on the same Orioles-theme cruise with Weaver. “I didn’t get much restful sleep after that,” Palmer said.
“There weren’t any gray areas with Earl,” said Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer Saturday morning. “We had a love-hate relationship. Earl was going to tell you what he expected and there wasn’t a lot of room for error with him. Earl was about winning and that was what he did.”
He was irascible. No question about it.
He also was known by his closest friends to be both sensitive and caring, though he seldom allowed the public to see the softer side of him.
“Earl is a very caring human being underneath that facade,” former Orioles first baseman Boog Powell said in a 1996 interview. “And we all knew that. We felt like family, and when I left here, I felt like I had left my family. You always knew that Earl would do anything in the world he could do for you.”
Weaver went to bat for a couple of young players who would establish themselves among the greatest stars in the history of the game.
He pressed to keep Eddie Murray at the major league level in 1977 and is credited with bucking convention to switch supposedly oversized Cal Ripken Jr. from third base to shortstop.
The rest, of course, is history.
“This man fought for me,” Murray said, during an interview in early 2003. “He kept telling (general manager) Hank Peters and the rest of the front office that I should stay. They just had me penciled in there, but he kept sending me out there.”
Weaver also is credited with a major role in developing what came to be known as The Oriole Way, a standardized approach to minor league instruction that he instituted along with fellow minor league manager Cal Ripken Sr. during the early 1960s.
In some ways, he was a comic character like longtime Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, but he had a hard edge that could rankle a player as easily as an umpire.
Weaver got under the skin of Triple-A call-up Bobby Grich in the early 1970s, yelling “home run or (go back to Triple-A) Rochester” at the young second baseman as he went up to bat. Grich came back to the dugout and — after a loud verbal exchange — threw Weaver down the steps that led to the clubhouse.