Weaver gets his statue

BALTIMORE - Thousands gathered two hours before first pitch in the Saturday afternoon heat. They were there to salute Earl Weaver and the good times he represented.

Weaver's statue was unveiled, and at the ceremony, he was clearly moved.

"I really didn't think I was gonna break up," he began.

It's been 26 years since Weaver managed the Orioles, and for the fans, he stood for good times, winning times.

"During that time, I made many a trip back here to Baltimore, and each time came back, I was amazed how the fans remembered the past," he said.

Weaver's teams won four American League pennants and the 1970 World Series. He had one of the best winning percentages of all-time, .583.

He retired at 52 after the Orioles nearly beat the Milwaukee Brewers for the AL East title in 1982, watched from the ABC broadcast booth when they won the World Series the next year and returned in June 1985 for a final season-and-a-half and retired for good at 56.

"I've been happy in retirement ever since There's no regrets about that. That team went on to win the next year. Whether they'd won with me or not is beside the point. I'd like to have another championship ring, certainly," Weaver said at a news conference following the ceremony.

In April, Frank Robinson's statue was unveiled. Robinson returned along with Jim Palmer, who'll see his statue in two weeks. Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken, who'll have their statues unveiled later this season were there, too. Only Brooks Robinson, whose statue presentation was delayed until late September, wasn't there.

"I put their name in the lineup, but that don't win ballgames. What they did on the field is win ballgames. I was lucky enough to be the guy that put the name in the lineup," Weaver said.

Manager Buck Showalter attended the ceremony as did Chris Davis, Nick Markakis and Brian Matusz. Showalter has often spoken of how much he's learned from talking with Weaver.

Weaver follows the Orioles closely and is happy with their success this season.

"If I'd have thought they'd be where they were on this day, it's kind of a surprise to me," Weaver said. "They have the right attitude, and I know that Buck's given them the right attitude."

During his speech, which lasted about 11 minutes, Weaver detailed his long career.

"Baseball's been my life," he said, and then ticked off some of the obscure and not-so-obscure places he managed.

He saluted his children for being understanding while he missed birthdays, proms and graduations, and to people who mentored him.

One mentor gave him a copy of Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People."

"I don't know how many people I influenced, but I made a lot of friends with the American League umpires," he joked.

After the ceremony, Weaver talked about his 94 ejections.

"I went a little wild on the field as some people know, but some funny things happened on the field, but I wouldn't want to see too many movies of them," he said.

During the Indians-Orioles game, Weaver was shown on the video screen and after he waved to the crowd, a montage of clips was presented. Naturally, there was one featuring his famous cap turning with ejection to follow.

Those days are long gone. He's 81, and his connection to the game is occasional trips to Baltimore, visits to spring training and Cooperstown.

He hopes for more trips here.

"My wish now is to come back and watch Buck manage in playoff games and World Series," he says.

And, yes, he likes the way Toby Mendez's sculpture depicts him.

"He made me look like Buck," Weaver said.