Earl Weaver

Weaver managed the Orioles for 17 years, including 15 in a row, using the philosophy of “if you play for one run, that’s all you get.” Throughout his career, Weaver managed for the three-run homer and solid pitching to hold that lead, and liked to use extensive data on past performance to help make decisions, philosophies adopted by his second baseman and managerial protégé Davey Johnson. Weaver also liked to bait umpires, and was thrown out of almost 100 games (including a rare World Series ejection in Game Four of the 1969 Series) and suspended at least four times. In 1985, he was ejected from both ends of a doubleheader.

A minor-league second baseman, Weaver never played in the major leagues, toiling in the Cardinal and Pirate organizations from 1948 through 1957 when he became a manager in the Orioles system. He managed in the minors until he was brought in to replace O’s skipper Hank Bauer midway through 1968. The next season, he led the Orioles to 109 wins, at the time tied for the third most victories in AL history. But his heavily favored team, featuring such future Hall of Famers as Jim PalmerBrooks Robinson, and Frank Robinson, ran into the Miracle Mets in the World Series, where they suffered a stunning five-game loss. The Orioles won 108 games in 1970, this time taking the Fall Classic in a five-game romp over the Reds, thanks largely to Brooks Robinson‘s brilliant series at the plate and at third base. In 1971, Weaver and the Orioles won their third straight pennant, but dropped the World Series in a seven-game setback at the hands the Pirates. Many critics blamed Weaver for the loss, since he had refused to bench injured first baseman Boog Powell, who hit only .111 in the Series. Powell had fractured his wrist in August, aggravated the injury when he was struck on the wrist by a pitch, and was visibly in pain at each at-bat in the Series.

The Orioles traded Frank Robinson to the Dodgers after the 1971 season, and subsequently failed to make the post-season for the first time in four years. Weaver managed his club to two more divisional championships in 1973 and 1974, mainly on the strength of a superb pitching staff, but lost to the A’s in both league championship series. He often had trouble communicating with his players, and was constantly at odds with Palmer. Weaver won his last pennant in 1979 when the Orioles won 102 games, but again was victimized by Pittsburgh in the Series, losing a seven-game heartbreaker after leading three-games-to-one. The next season his Orioles suffered heartbreak of a different sort when they tallied 100 victories but finished second in the AL East to the Yankees. He retired after 1982, when Baltimore staged a memorable September comeback to tie Milwaukee for the division lead on the penultimate day of the season only to lose 10-2 to the Brewers before a sellout crowd at Memorial Stadium in the season finale.

Weaver came back to manage the Orioles midway through the 1985 season (taking over for Joe Altobelli, Weaver for the second time in his career replaced an Orioles’ manager who had won a World Championship just two years prior). In 1986, he suffered his first-ever losing season, winning just 73 games, and retired for good. Weaver won 100 games five times, and his .583 winning percentage ranks among the best in baseball history. In 1996 he was elected to the Hall of Fame.

Though often gruff, Weaver was more than capable of holding his own in a battle of wits. One day in spring training, while berating former umpire Ron Luciano for inaccuracies in his recent book of memoirs, he told Luciano, “Like it says in Hamlet, Ron, ‘This above all else: to thine own self be true.'” When Miami Herald writer Edwin Pope reported the story the next day with Weaver saying “Like Horatio says in Hamlet…”, Weaver sought out Pope and yelled, “Edwin, if Polonius didn’t fucking say it, I’ve lived the last 35 years of my life backwards.”