Earl Weaver went home yesterday to recuperate from a heart attack that hadhospitalized the former Orioles manager for more than a week. A full recoveryis expected for Weaver, who turns 68 on Friday.
"We'll probably have a quiet [celebration]," his wife, Marianna, said fromtheir Hialeah, Fla., home. "Earl hates birthdays."
Not this one.
On Aug. 3, around 9: 30 p.m., Weaver was lying in bed, watchingtelevision, when he felt his chest tighten. Assuming it was something he ate,he took two Rolaids and tried to walk it off. The pain increased.
"There was a lot of discomfort," said Earl, who sensed urgency and rushedto the hospital. Marianna made the normal five-minute drive in less than that.
"Doctors said getting there so fast helped a lot," she said.
Weaver was wheeled into the emergency room, given oxygen and medication todissolve an arterial blood clot. For eight days, cardiologists monitored hiscondition before releasing the Hall of Fame manager with his marching orders:
Golf, yes. Cigarettes, no.
Weaver figures he's batting .500.
"I've gone eight days without a smoke," he said. "That's unbelievable.Every day is another victory. I feel like I'm in AA [Alcoholics Anonymous]."
He'll hit the links next month, said Weaver, who must return to thehospital next week for an angioplasty to clear another blocked artery.
"Once that [artery] is 'blown out,' it'll be like none of this everhappened," he said.
Except for the nitroglycerin tablets he now carries for emergencies.
Weaver was enshrined in Cooperstown in 1996 after leading Baltimore tofour American League pennants and a world championship during his 17 seasons.
He managed the Orioles from 1968 to 1982 and 1985-86, during which histeams won 1,480 games and lost 1,060. Weaver's winning percentage (.583) ranksfifth among those who managed 10 years or more in the modern era. Only onceduring his tenure did Baltimore have a losing season, in 1986.
His teams won three consecutive league titles (1969-71), and the '70Orioles defeated the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series, four games to one.
Though Weaver tried to keep his illness quiet, he did receive hospitalcalls from former players such as Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer and Oriolesbullpen coach Elrod Hendricks.
"We were just too worried to notify people," Marianna Weaver said.
Weaver, who has no history of heart problems, reckoned his own quickthinking helped save his life.
"At my age, you've got to know the danger signals," he said. "What I feltwas too similar to what some of my buddies have gone through."