Sports writers called it the "pitching and three-run homer" formula that Weaver
parlayed into the Baltimore Orioles dynasty of the 1970s: six division titles, four
pennants and one world championship. But Earl is also credited for his stress for
fundamentals and the use of statistics and platooning in making the moves. Still, with
horses like the Robinsons, Buford, Blair, Belanger and Powell and 20-game pitching
winners like palmer, McNally and Cuellar.. that's a big boost coming down the stretch.
But where does the manager fit in?
WEAVER: The manager has to make the final selections of everybody in the organization.
He must put his 25 men together. You're not going to win without good ball players. But
to get the right ball players and the right guy at the right spot is the manager's
responsibility. Writing the lineup every night is the manager's responsibility. If he
doesn't write the right players in there and the manager and general manager together
don't aquire the right players, the manager is not going to be a difference. But I liked
to say that even though he never got a hit, never fielded a ground ball, I think the
manager is responsible for every game- win or lose.
And Earl never did appear as a player in the major leagues, spending 13 years as a
minor league second baseman, finsing out first-hand what kind of ball player makes it up
to the bigs.
WEAVER: I'd say to myself: why is this teammate of mine going to the big leagues and why
am I not? And if I look at it honestly, I'd say he runs faster than me, he can hit the
ball further than me, he hit for a higher average than me. And I learned to judge ball
players by judging myself against the people that went to the major leagues. I do think
it helped in my minor league career in judging minor league ball players as they came to
the major leagues as I was managing the Baltimore Orioles.
Weaver says baseball really is an easy game to understand.
WEAVER: But with baseball fans the thing they may miss is the fact that something has
happened during the course of a ball game.. a pitcher has been telling you that he's
starting to feel stress in his arm when you take him out that people at the ball park
don't necessarily know the reason that inspired some of the moves. And I think that's
what makes the game so interesting to the fans, and whgy baseball has lasted for so many
years: people in the seats are guessing- and I say guessing- exactly like the manager
doing. Because when he puts in a reliever he doesn't know what's going to happen. You try
to play percentages- if there are any percentages in your favor. I liked to know exactly
what the pitcher I was bringing in had done against the hitter that was at the plate.
After a couple of losing seasons in 1956 and '57 as manager, Weaver ran off ten
consecutive winning campaigns in the minors, climbing up through the Orioles chain. That
included years of 83 and 80 victories in Rochester- helping to bring 300-thousand fans
to Red Wing Stadium in (1966)- the first time that had happened in 17 years.
WEAVER: Oh, I have tremendous memories of Rochester. It was as close to the big leagues
that you could get without being in the big leagues. And we had two outstanding years
there. In 1966, we won the pennant on the last day of the season and beat the Toronto
ball club, who Dick Williams was managing.. with a lot of the ball players he took to
Boston the following year and won the American League pennant. And in 1967, we lost in a
playoff for the International League pennant.
Weaver may hold the record for ejections as manager, tossed from 91* big league games.
But says everything was impromptu- dismissing those who say he got bounced simply as a
psychological tool to get his team fired up.
WEAVER: 20 to 30 percent of the times that you went out there, you wanted to get out
there before one of your players was ejected. No, you're out there to make a living.
Each win is important to you because if you put enough wins in the books by the end of
the year. And you're not going to be asked to come back the following year. Each and
every win piled one on top of another is going to let you send your children through
college. If you're out of work, there's not much you can do to put food on the table.
So, it's very traumatic believe it or not. Maybe I over reacted and when I did I was
certainly sorry for it. But I'm not sorry for the ejections because I felt I was there
for myself, for my team and for my ball players.
Earl got out of managing by retiring in 1982. But fulfilling a promise to O owner
Edward Bennett Williams to return if asked, he climbed back into his retired uniform for
two unproductive seasons in '85 and '86.
WEAVER: I am not sorry that I went back to the major leagues. And I tried to win every
ball game. But I really don't know within myself right now if I was the same person that
had left. I had tasted retirement. I enjoyed retirement. I did not like travelling and
sitting in the hotel rooms. I don't know if that reflected on my job and the job that I
did. I've searched my soul for the answer to that.
Former Red Wing and big league managing great, Earl Weaver. Bill Flynn, WXXI-1370.
* retrosheet.org and SABR... have Earl's ejections at 94