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Tuesday January 22, 2013

He never missed a chance to bait an umpire

Associated Press

BALTIMORE -- Earl Weaver always was up for an argument, especially with an umpire.

At the slightest provocation, the Earl of Baltimore would spin his hat back, point his finger squarely at an ump's chest and then fire away. The Hall of Fame manager would even tangle with his own players, if necessary.

All this from a 5-foot-6 pepperpot who hated to be doubted.

Although reviled by some, Weaver was beloved in Baltimore and remained an Oriole to the end.

"Earl was a black-and-white manager," former O's ace and Hall of Fame member Jim Palmer said Saturday. "He kind of told you what your job description was going to be and kind of basically told you if you wanted to play on the Orioles, this was what you needed to do." Weaver took the Orioles to the World Series four times over 17 seasons but won only one title, in 1970. His .583 winning percentage ranks fifth among managers who served 10 or more seasons in the 20th century.

The notoriously feisty Hall of Fame manager died at age 82 on a Caribbean cruise associated with the Orioles, his marketing agent said Saturday.

Dick Gordon said Weaver's wife told him Weaver went back to his cabin after dinner and began choking between 10:30 and 11 Friday night. Gordon said a cause of death has not been determined.

"It's a sad day. Earl was a terrific manager," Orioles vice-president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said. "The simplicity and clarity of his leadership and his passion for baseball was unmatched. He's a treasure for the Orioles. He leaves a terrific legacy of winning baseball with the Orioles and we're so grateful for his contribution. He has a legacy that will live on."

Weaver was a salty-tongued manager who preferred to wait for a three-run homer rather than manufacture a run with a stolen base or a bunt.

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

Former umpire Don Denkinger said he called one of Weaver's last games in the majors.

"He comes to home plate before the game and says, 'Gentlemen, I'm done.' He told us the only way he'd ever come back is if he ran out of money," Denkinger told the Associated Press by phone from Arizona. "I told him that if he ever ran out of money to call the umpires' association and we'd take up a collection for him. We'd do anything just to keep him off the field and away from us."

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