Fiery Orioles manager Earl Weaver dead at 82

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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.”

Umpires found out just how demonstrative he could be. Denkinger remembered a game in which the manager disputed a call with Larry McCoy at the plate.

Earl tells us, `Now I’m gonna show you how stupid you all are.’ Earl goes down to first base and ejects the first base umpire. Then he goes to second base and ejects the second base umpire. I’m working third base and now he comes down and ejects me,” Denkinger said.

Much later, after they were retired, the umpire asked Weaver to sign a photo of that episode.

“He said absolutely. I sent it to him, he signed it and said some really nice things. It’s framed and hanging up in my office back home in Iowa,” Denkinger said.

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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