Palmer -- who, along with Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson and Reggie Jackson, is one of four Hall of Famers managed by Weaver -- had campaigned openly for his manager, sending veterans committee members a two-page letter (single-spaced) praising his candidacy. The committee, composed of five Hall of Fame players, five sportswriters and broadcasters and four baseball executives, selected from a ballot of 20.
"Earl was the best manager of his era," said Palmer, who, as a player, had
a fractious relationship with Weaver. "He was scrappy, loyal and never held a
grudge. He knew what buttons to push, and he wasn't afraid to push them.
"He was never afraid of losing his job, though he managed most of his
career with one-year contracts. He was fearless. He never left spring training
with a 'political' roster. No player made the team because the front office
wanted him there. These were 25 pieces of Earl's puzzle and his alone."
One of those pieces was an infielder from Aberdeen who, thanks to Weaver,
endured a rocky beginning to his major-league career.
"I'm glad that I had the opportunity to start out with Earl," said Cal
Ripken Jr. "He was a little intimidating at first, but he showed a lot of
confidence in me. I started off 9-for-73. A less-experienced manager might not
have stuck with me as long.
"Once I got my feet on the ground, he moved me to shortstop, which
significantly changed the direction of my career. Looking back, my career
might never have gotten off the ground without the strength of Earl Weaver."
Like Hanlon, Weaver won three consecutive league pennants (1969 to 1971).
Hanlon, a cunning strategist and deft trader, turned a floundering Orioles
team into one of the legendary clubs of the 19th century. A short, stocky man
not much taller than 5-foot-8 Weaver, Hanlon took over a National League team
that had finished 54 1/2 games off the pace in 1892, swapped for three future
Hall of Famers (Willie Keeler, Hugh Jennings and Joe Kelley) and won a pennant
two years later.
"I'm floored," said Edwina Reeve of Lutherville, Hanlon's granddaughter,
on learning of his election. "I'll bet Foxy Ned is up there now saying, 'I've
got this thing worked out.' "
Hanlon's Orioles were pioneers in the use of "scientific" baseball tactics
-- some legal, some not. The bunt, hit-and-run and squeeze play were Hanlon
trademarks. So was scooting from first base to third when the umpire's back
"He was always pulling something fast -- anything he could get away with
to win a game, kind of like Earl Weaver," said Hanlon's grandson, Albert
Thompson of Roland Park.
Hanlon's election to the Hall coincides with the 100th anniversary of his
greatest Baltimore team: The 1896 Orioles went 90-39 (.698). Seven players
became big-league managers, including Hall of Famers Jennings, John McGraw and
Hanlon later led Brooklyn to two pennants, retired and became ** head of
Baltimore's Park Board. He died in 1937, on Opening Day.
"It wonderful that the man who started scientific baseball and the man who
picked up on it are going into Cooperstown together," said Mike Reeve of
Towson, Hanlon's great-grandson.
"The man from the old era gets to go in with the student."