Had a chance today to speak to Earl Weaver, the Orioles' Hall of Fame manager who will be one of the club's six icons to be honored with a bronze statue this year at Camden Yards.
Calling from South Florida, Weaver said he was overwhelmed by the gesture.
"It's quite an honor and something you never expect to happen in anyone's life," said Weaver, who won 1,480 games with the Orioles and led the club to one world championship (1970) and three other World Series appearances (1969, 1971, 1979). "I'm amazed it is going to happen, and I think it is wonderful the Orioles would pay tribute to the guys that went into the Hall of Fame as Orioles. I think it brings the Orioles a little prestige. It's just wonderful that they would appreciate the fact that we got in as Orioles."
Weaver saw a preliminary version of the statue earlier this year and said, "They did a tremendous job. What an honor. I didn't think it would be a 7-foot statue, maybe a bust or something like that, something like they have in Yankee Stadium. It seems like a lot, but I am appreciative of it."
Weaver's ceremony is expected to be in late June. By then, the statues for Frank Robinson (April) and Brooks Robinson (May) will have been unveiled. In July, Jim Palmer's will be unveiled followed by Eddie Murray (August) and Cal Ripken Jr. (September).
"I can't wait until they are all up so I can see them all," Weaver said. "It's got to be fantastic."
The fiery Weaver is 81 and dealing with "your regular aches and pains." He no longer plays golf, which he said is frustrating because he said the sport was a "great time-eater." He pays attention to the Orioles during the season, always checking out their box scores in the morning newspaper.
"They can't go anywhere but up, and I think they will," he said.
He hasn't paid much attention to their offseason moves but was intrigued by the hiring of Dan Duquette as the new executive vice president of baseball operations.
"I know him from way back," Weaver said. "That's good. They've gotta try something."
One other note from the Orioles' public relations department regarding FanFest, which is Saturday, Jan. 21 at the Baltimore Convention Center:
FanFest autograph vouchers will go on sale Saturday, January 7 at 10 a.m. at www.orioles.com. A preview of the sessions will be available at the team website no later than 9 p.m. on Jan. 6 to allow fans to plan for the next morning's purchase. Details regarding the number of autograph vouchers available, the cost and more will be announced about Jan. 3 or Jan. 4. All proceeds generated from the sale of autograph vouchers will be directed to the Orioles Charitable Foundation.
Here is the autograph policy implemented last year that will continue in 2012: Children ages 4-14 will have a specially designated Kids Only player autograph station that is free of charge and will operate continuously throughout the day. All other autograph stations at FanFest will require the advance purchase of autograph vouchers. The vouchers will be available at www.orioles.com, with all of the proceeds to benefit children's charities through OriolesREACH. There will be a limited number of vouchers available for each autograph session, guaranteeing each fan who purchases a voucher for a particular session an autograph from each of the 3-4 players at the station. Advance purchase of autograph vouchers is the only way to guarantee an autograph. Any vouchers not sold in advance will be available for purchase the day of the event, but last year all vouchers sold out in advance, so fans are urged to purchase on January 7.