Ball for Earl

A ball sits on the mound as the Orioles honor the late Earl Weaver by not having a ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day at Camden Yards. (Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun / April 5, 2013)

Instead of having a ceremonial first pitch to kick off the home opener, the Orioles chose to keep the baseball on the mound, to the left of the pitching rubber.

It was done to honor Orioles Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver, who died in January at age 82. It’s believed to be the first time the club has not had a ceremonial first pitch for a home opener in Camden Yards history.

The Orioles always seem to do celebrations well. This one was obviously understated, and touching.There also was a video tribute to Weaver and his name was listed on the roll call of “Orioles’ family,” as the final name (though the rest was listed in alphabetical order, Weaver was behind Earl Williams).

Before the game, Showalter talked about his relationship with Weaver, whom many compare to the club’s current skipper.

“He had time for me. He didn’t have to. He embraced it,” Showalter said. “You could tell how much the Orioles meant to him. He’s watching today. More pressure, trust me.”

The Orioles are wearing an orange “No. 4” patch on their right uniform sleeves all season in honor of Weaver. A “4” is painted in the grass in front of the home dugout Camden Yards; there was also a “4” painted into the grass on the field at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota during spring training.

“I’d come off the mound after making a pitching change in the spring and have my head down thinking and I’d look up, and I’d almost be getting ready to step on the number and I’d walk around it,” Showalter said. “There’s a certain reverence we all have for that. I’ll think about him today — and will all season and in the future. He was a special Oriole and always will be.”