Passion Powered Weaver
Former Orioles manager remembered for building Baltimore dynasty
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – The baseball universe will always remember the passion Earl Weaver had for the game. He had so much passion he was ejected from more ballgames than any other manager in American League history.
But that passion also resulted in four AL pennants and one World Series win – and a plaque at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
Weaver passed away on Friday, Jan. 18 during a Caribbean cruise at the age of 82. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996 as a manager. Although he never played a game at the major league level, he found incredible success in skippering the Baltimore Orioles for 17 seasons – from 1968-82 and 1985-86.
Weaver once said: “Bad ballplayers make good managers, not the other way around. All I can do is help them be as good as they are.”
He was a minor league second baseman in the Cardinals and Pirates organization and managed in the minors before being brought up halfway through the season to replace fired Orioles manager Hank Bauer in 1968.
“He was the only person in the world who believed I could play for in the big leagues,” former catcher Elrod Hendricks once said. “This man, to me, is like a father. I have that much respect and love for him. I never really told him that until he retired. But everything I won, everything I have, I owe to him.”
Weaver finished his career with a .583 winning percentage, including 1,480 wins. Weaver managed the Orioles to the World Series win in 1970, and his teams appeared in the Fall Classic in 1969, 1971 and 1979. He had five seasons with 100-plus wins and only one losing season.
Weaver’s strategy was “pitching, defense and the three-run homer.” He didn’t believe in small ball and felt that teams that play for one run often only got one run. He used statistics extensively to create favorable matchups for his team – in an era before computer-assisted research.
He managed Hall of Famers Jim Palmer, Frank Robinson, and Brooks Robinson. He also served as a color commentator for ABC, calling the 1983 World Series that featured the Orioles in between managing stints. His No. 4 was retired by Baltimore in 1982.
“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,” said Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. “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.”
Weaver was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1996 and was a regular fixture at the annual Hall of Fame Weekend in Cooperstown.
"Whenever we played the Orioles, we always knew they had a great manager in their dugout,” said Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio. “We all respected Earl. He was a great friend and I loved to be with him in Cooperstown. I will miss him.”
Samantha Carr is a freelance writer based in Rochester, N.Y.