Urban myth? Or Orioles legend?
In the end, I wish I had never sent the e-mail and never asked the question. Ignorance isn't so bad, is it? At least not as it concerns Earl Weaver and his linguistic skills, dirtier than the Preakness infield on a rainy day.
"I watch the YouTube clip about once a week, just to remind myself about Alice and her tomatoes," I wrote in an e-mail. "But a part of me has always wondered if it's real. And if it is, what's the back story?"
Tom Marr was still on the air, but he fired back an e-mail within minutes. "Will call and fill you in on Alice and Co."
That's when I started dreading the response. The notorious clip had made the leap from Baltimore basements to Internet infamy a couple of years ago. The audience grew considerably, though, just this week.
The YouTube clip appears to be audio of an old Weaver radio appearance in which he rants about everything from team speed to tomato plants. A snippet of the clip was heard during the YES network's broadcast of the Orioles-New York Yankees game Wednesday. While the announcers were discussing Orioles hitting coach Terry Crowley, Weaver's voice magically appeared.
"Terry Crowley's lucky he's in [expletive] baseball, for crissakes," Weaver's voice said. "He was released by the Cincinnati Reds. He was released by the [expletive] ... "
A spokesman for YES apologized for the inadvertent airing, saying an engineer was listening to a file and the audio wasn't intended for broadcast.
But I was more curious about the original clip. I never saw Weaver leap from the dugout and verbally accost umpires; my introduction to Weaver came from blooper videos and highlight shows.
Was this clip real? I had hoped so because Weaver's ornery character is such a great part of baseball lore.
"Hi, everybody, this is Earl Weaver with Manager's Corner," the clip begins, innocently enough. "Today I have Tom Marr, Orioles broadcaster, back on the show. And I understand Tom's been getting some mail with questions that supposedly I can answer. Now what the [expletive] are some of these [expletive] questions, Tom?"
From there, the interview sounds like a Tarantino script. Earmuff the kids.
On former reliever Don Stanhouse: "Well, Don Stanhouse was an [expletive]. He had us in trouble, had the [expletive] bases loaded [expletive] almost every [expletive] time he went out there. He liked to ruin my health smoking cigarettes ... "
On team speed: "Team speed, for crissakes, you get [expletive] [expletive] fleas on the [expletive] bases, getting picked off trying to steal, getting thrown out, taking runs away from you. You get them big [expletive] who can hit the [expletive] ball out the ballpark and you can't make any [expletive] mistakes."
After the Crowley question, Marr cheerfully chimes in, "Well, certainly you've made your opinions known on the fans' questions about baseball, Earl, but let's get to something else. Alice Sweet from Norfolk wants to know the best time to put in a tomato plant."
I'd lose my job if I printed all of Weaver's response. Here's the best edit I can provide: "Alice Sweet oughta be worried about [deleted], rather than where her next [expletive] tomato plant is coming from. Get her ... in the [expletive] bars at night, and ... "
Weaver barely pauses to catch his breath. "I don't understand where these questions are coming from, Tom. That's about it for Manager's Corner. Go [expletive] yourself and the [expletive] with your show coming up next on the Baltimore Orioles baseball [expletive] network."
Yesterday, when Marr finished his morning show on WCBM-AM, he called me - "Let me tell you how it happened ... " - and popped the balloon.
"It never actually aired," Marr said. "It was never meant to air."
Marr said it was a prank. Marr and Weaver were pre-recording a segment from Seattle in 1982, when the pair flubbed a take of the Manager's Corner. They got to laughing and decided to record an entire fake segment and send it back to the station engineer as a joke.
The dialogue was all off-the-cuff and off-the-air. Weaver didn't have to try very hard to act like an old cuss. The engineer, of course, got a kick out of it, and the listeners heard a different, sanitized version of the segment before Sunday's ballgame.
The prank tape didn't die, though. It was kicked around Baltimore on audiocassette for years, and naturally, when YouTube was born, colorful Weaver made the jump into the digital age.
"It's been all around the world by now," Marr said. "Just grown like ivy."
So, yes, it was Earl Weaver, unscripted and uncensored. But it was stolen from a bottom drawer somewhere, not stripped from the airwaves.
"And now, as they say, you know the rest of the story," Marr says.