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Orioles set to honor Weaver with statue

BALTIMORE - The second of six statues honoring Orioles Hall of Famers is scheduled to be unveiled today at Camden Yards, and it's likely the smallest of the bunch.

In size only.

Former Baltimore manager Earl Weaver's likeness will stand alongside his one-time players in the picnic area behind left-center field as part of year-long series recognizing the franchise's greats. Weaver managed the Orioles for parts of 17 seasons and amassed 1,480 wins, four American League pennants and a World Series title.

Weaver led five teams to 100 or more wins during his career and sent four squads to the World Series, including three straight from 1969-1971. The Orioles won the 1970 World Series by beating Cincinnati in five games.

Current manager Buck Showalter has been characterized by some as Weaveresque, both in stature and style. But Showalter said he's not the only manager to have studied the diminutive Weaver's tactics along the way.

And he'll be sure to attend today's ceremony honoring Weaver and presenting his statue.

"I think it's been more fascinating spending time with him and talking with him," Showalter said before last Sunday's game against Washington. "The more you're around the game, things don't just happen. Certainly, he'd be the first to tell you he had good pitchers and good players, but he's a brilliant man. He's far ahead of his time."

Showalter said he's appreciative of being able to grow as a manager by learning from innovative leaders like Weaver, Sparky Anderson and Billy Martin. And he learned that they shared a common thread.

"They weren't afraid," Showalter said. "There wasn't much fear. I think they knew when they walked into some rooms that their baseball intellect, I'm sure, could be intimidating."

Showalter said Weaver was part of a coaches seminar during Orioles spring training earlier this year and everyone came away with the same feeling of reverence in listening to the Hall of Fame manager talk baseball.

"Believe me, I think everybody there would have liked for it to go on all day," Showalter said. "There's not enough time in the day to get everything you'd like to get from him."

Weaver retired after the 1982 season but was brought back in June of 1985 when Baltimore fired Joe Altobelli after a 29-26 start. Weaver went 53-52 the rest of the way (Cal Ripken Sr. managed one game after Altobelli's ousting).

Weaver managed the Orioles for the entire 1986 campaign and the club went 73-89, the only losing record of his Hall of Fame career, before he retired for good.

Weaver joins Frank Robinson, who was honored earlier this season, out in the picnic area promenade, and he will get company with statues of his former players Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken and Brooks Robinson coming soon.

Showalter said he expects Weaver to downplay today's ceremony in public but he's confident the old skipper will be moved.

"Don't think for a second it's not a huge deal for him," Showalter said. "One thing that always hits me when I talk to him is what a fan of the Orioles he is and how closely he follows us."

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