Sunday was the one-year anniversary of the death of Orioles Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver, so it’s natural to think about Weaver’s impact on the franchise and the game this time of the year.
A great memory of Weaver is just a click away on YouTube, where you can find his tirade with first-base umpire Bill Haller in a game against the Detroit Tigers on Sept. 17, 1980. After Haller called a balk on Orioles starter Mike Flanagan, Weaver strolled out of the dugout and just unleashed on Haller.
"You're here for one reason," Weaver said repeatedly to Haller, wagging his finger at the umpire, "to [expletive] us over good."
That quote doesn’t do the video justice. If you haven’t seen it, look it up on YouTube. There are several versions. As you might assume, the language is not family-friendly. I will watch it randomly because it's so great.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Weaver back in May 2012. It was my first year on the beat and my first time meeting Weaver. As someone who grew up here, it was like being in the presence of a legend. I was riveted to his every word.
Weaver was still following the Orioles. He would check the box scores every day in the newspaper. Earlier that year, Weaver was invited to stop by spring training by manager Buck Showalter to speak with the team.
Weaver said after watching Chris Davis play, he thought he’d be a special player. Weaver said Davis’ left-handed swing reminded him of Hall of Famer Duke Snider because of the way it came off the bat.
“I told [Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette], he’s gonna do something,” Weaver said to me that May. “I think he’s going to be a good hitter for a while.”
Looks like Earl was right on that prediction. He had to have enjoyed watching Davis’ 53-homer season from above.
Weaver also really liked Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy: “You need guys like him, guys who play shortstop or second base who can hit 30 homers. I'd like to see us get another guy like that."
More than anything, Weaver seemed to enjoy the newfound success the team was enjoying in 2012.
We also talked about a statue of him being unveiled later that season. That's when Weaver became reflective.
“For dads -- maybe they’re granddads now -- they can bring their grandkids and say, ‘You should have seen Earl Weaver manage,’ ” he said. “That’s something that you can’t describe, knowing that somebody is going to be there looking at that statue. And then another generation from now, I don’t know what they’ll say about those statues out there, but it’s like the monuments [at Monument Park at Yankee Stadium]. [Former Yankees managers] Miller Huggins, Casey Stengel, they won’t be forgotten. We will not be forgotten as long as they’re there.
“Generations from now, someone might come by and ask, ‘Who was that?’ ” Weaver said. ‘He was the manager. That’s when the Orioles won 100 games three years in a row,' or ... 'That’s Earl Weaver. He was the manager 70 years ago,' or whatever. I don’t know if the guy will say, ‘Who cares?’ but it will be still there for people to see.”
It’s hard to believe any Orioles fan -- even years from now -- would say ‘Who cares’ when it comes to Weaver.