Earl Weaver remembered as much for temper as success
BY DAVID GINSBURG January 19, 2013 11:45PM
Longtime Orioles manager Earl Weaver literally flips his lid as he protests a call by plate umpire Marty Springstead in 1974. | AP
BALTIMORE — Loved in Baltimore long after his Hall of Fame managerial career ended, Earl Weaver remained an Oriole to the end.
The peppery Hall of Fame manager died at 82 while on a Caribbean cruise associated with the Orioles, his marketing agent said Saturday.
‘‘The Duke of Earl,’’ as he affectionately was known in Baltimore, took the Orioles to the World Series four times in 17 seasons but won only one title. His .583 winning percentage ranks fifth among managers who served 10 or more seasons in the 20th century.
Marketing agent Dick Gordon said Weaver’s wife told him Weaver went back to his cabin after dinner and began choking between
10:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. Friday. Gordon said a cause of death hasn’t been determined.
‘‘It’s a sad day,’’ Orioles vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said. ‘‘Earl was a terrific manager. 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.’’
Weaver, who compiled a
1,480-1,060 record during his tenure, was a salty-tongued manager who preferred to wait for a three-run home run rather than manufacture a run with a stolen base or a bunt. While some purists argued that strategy, no one could dispute the results.
‘‘He was an intense competitor and smart as a whip when it came to figuring out ways to beat you,’’ said Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson, who played under Weaver with the Orioles from 1965 to 1972.
Weaver had a reputation as a winner, but umpires knew him as a hothead. He often would turn his hat backward and yell directly into an umpire’s face, then would kick dirt on home plate or on the umpire’s shoes after being ejected.
‘‘Amazing how fiery he was,’’ said Cubs first-base coach Dave McKay, an American League infielder during Weaver’s tenure. ‘‘To see him come out and argue, the stuff he would say, it was unbelievable. It was a show.
‘‘I played for Billy Martin. Billy and him were from the same mold. And probably [former Cubs manager Lou] Piniella, too. Guys you wonder if guys could play for them nowadays.’’
Weaver was a brilliant manager, but he never made it to the majors as a player. He spent 13 seasons as a second baseman in the St. Louis Cardinals’ organization.
‘‘He talked about how he could drive in 100 runs a year, score 100 runs and never make an error,’’ Johnson said. ‘‘He said he never got to the big leagues because the Cardinals had too many good players in front of him.’’
AP, Gordon Wittenmyer