Peter Schmuck

My first encounter with the Earl of Baltimore

Orioles catcher Matt Wieters probably didn't realize it at the time, but he delivered a nice tribute to Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver when he launched that three-run home run onto Eutaw Street on Friday night to help propel the O's to a 9-8 victory over the Cleveland Indians at Canden Yards.

    Earl was a big proponent of the three-run home run. He didn't have a lot of time for small ball. Of course, he had teams that could deliver the big blow with some regularity, so it wasn't an unrealistic philosophy.

    Weaver is better known for his long string of winning seasons and his irrascible personality, all of which led to his induction at Cooperstown and -- today -- the unveiling of his statue in the Garden of the Greats at Oriole Park. The gates open at 2 and the ceremony begins at 2:15. Lots of other Orioles greats are expected to attend.

    So, why wouldn't I wax nostalgic about my first encounter with the Earl of Baltimore. It was in 1979 and I was on my first-ever road trip with the California Angels, a very good team that would go on to lose to Earl's O's in that franchise's first-ever playoff series.

    But this was a regular-season game and the Angels had beaten the O's and I went to the Orioles clubhouse to get a quote from Weaver at old Memorial Stadium. I don't remember exactly what he said -- and it probably couldn't be printed here, anyway -- but he made quite an entrance.

    He stormed through the locker room and slammed the door of his office so hard that the doorknob came off in his hand and the door rebounded so that we could all see him standing there looking at it. Very funny moment.