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Earl Weaver

Manager
Born: August 14, 1930 (1930-08-14) (age 79)
St. Louis, Missouri
Batted: right Threw: right 
MLB debut
July 7, 1968 for the Baltimore Orioles
Last MLB appearance
October 5, 1986 for the Baltimore Orioles
Career statistics
Games     2,541
Win-Loss record     1,480-1,060
Winning %     .583
Teams
Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Induction     1996
Vote     Veterans' Committee

Earl Sidney Weaver (born August 14, 1930 in St. Louis, Missouri) is a former Major League Baseball manager. He spent his entire managerial career with the Baltimore Orioles, managing the club from 19681982 and 19851986. Weaver was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996.

Weaver's nickname was the Earl of Baltimore. He also wrote a book called Weaver on Strategy.

Contents

Playing career

After playing for Beaumont High School in St. Louis, the 17-year-old Weaver was signed by his hometown St. Louis Cardinals in 1948 as a second baseman. A slick fielder but never much of a hitter, he worked his way up to the Texas League Houston Buffaloes (two steps below the majors) in 1951, but never made the big club. Weaver later traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, then on to the Orioles, where he began his managing career (see below).

His Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer, who battled with Weaver on a regular basis, once noted: "The only thing that Earl knows about a curve ball is he couldn't hit it." After Palmer's skills began to decline and he was no longer a regular starter, Weaver defended his actions by claiming he'd given Palmer "more chances than my ex-wife." He has also directed such a remark at Mike Cuellar, ace of the 1969 staff, and several other players.

Managerial career

Weaver started his minor league managerial career in 1956 with the unaffiliated Knoxville Smokies in the South Atlantic League. He joined the Orioles in 1957 as skipper of their Fitzgerald club in the Georgia-Florida League. The Orioles moved him to their Dublin, Georgia franchise in 1958, and to their Aberdeen, South Dakota club in 1959. 1960 found Weaver in Wisconsin managing the Fox Cities Foxes in the Class B Three-I League. He moved up to with the AA Elmira Pioneers in 1962 and to the AAA Rochester Red Wings in 1966.

As a minor league pilot, he compiled a record of 841 wins and 697 defeats (.547) with three championships in 11½ seasons. He was promoted to the Orioles as their first-base coach in 1968, and spent a half-season in that role before taking the managerial reins in July.

During his tenure as big-league skipper, the Orioles won six Eastern Division titles, four American League pennants, and a World Series championship. Weaver's managerial record is 1,480–1,060 (.583), including 100+ win seasons in 1969 (109), 1970 (108), 1971 (101), 1979 (102), and 1980 (100). He only had one losing season in his managerial career, with the 1986 Orioles.

In 1989, Weaver returned to managing, helming the Gold Coast Suns in new Senior Professional Baseball Association. The Suns failed to make the playoffs in the 1989-90 season and folded after one season.

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Ejections

Weaver holds the distinction of being ejected from more games than anyone in American League history, being bounced from 97 contests. Weaver is well known for the humor that often accompanied the ejections. During one particular tirade with an umpire, Weaver headed to the dugout screaming, "I'm going to check the rule-book on that" to which the umpire replied, "Here, use mine." Weaver shot back, "That's no good - I can't read Braille."

Weaver was well known for kicking dirt on umpires, and for turning his cap backwards whenever he sparred with umpires in order to get as close to them as possible without touching them. His rivalry with umpire Ron Luciano was legendary, to the point where the AL re-arranged umpiring schedules so that Luciano would not work Orioles games. Still, Weaver had respect for Luciano, calling him "one of the few umpires that people have paid their way into the park to see."

On September 15, 1977, in Toronto, Weaver asked umpire Marty Springstead to have a tarpaulin covering the Toronto Blue Jays bullpen area removed; the tarp was weighed down by bricks and Weaver argued that his left fielder could be injured if he ran into the bricks while chasing a foul ball. When the umpire refused to order the Blue Jays to move the tarp, Weaver ordered the Orioles off the field, forcing the umpire to declare a forfeit: the only forfeit in Orioles history.

One of Weaver's most explosive tirades came on September 17, 1980 against Detroit at Memorial Stadium. Mike Flanagan was called for a balk by first base umpire Bill Haller, who was wearing a microphone for a documentary on the daily life of a MLB umpire. Weaver ran out to state his disagreement and after getting tossed launched into a profanity-filled argument with Haller that was duly recorded and is now popular on YouTube and other internet sites.

Philosophy

Weaver's managerial philosophy, outlined in Weaver on Strategy, is oft-quoted as "Pitching, Defense, and the Three Run Homer". Weaver eschewed the use of so-called "inside baseball" tactics such as the stolen base, the hit and run, or the sacrifice bunt, preferring a patient approach ("waiting for the home run"), saying "If you play for one run, that's all you'll get" and "On offense, your most precious possessions are your 27 outs". Weaver claims to have never had a sign for the hit and run, citing that the play makes both the baserunner and the hitter vulnerable, as the baserunner is susceptible to being caught stealing and the hitter is required to swing at any pitch thrown.

Weaver also insisted that his players maintain a professional appearance at all times. He allowed mustaches, but not beards, and, as a rule, players had to wear a suit or jacket and tie onboard an airplane for a road trip.

Use of statistics

Weaver made extensive use of statistics to create matchups that were favorable either for his batter or his pitcher. He had various notebooks with all sorts of splits and head-to-head numbers for his batters and against his pitchers and would assemble his lineups according to the matchups he had. For example, despite the fact that Gold Glove shortstop Mark Belanger was an inept hitter by any objective standard, in 19 plate appearances he hit .625 with a .684 on-base percentage and .625 slugging percentage against Jim Kern and would be slotted high in the lineup when facing him.[1] Similarly, Boog Powell, the 1970 American League MVP, hit a meager .178/.211/.278 against Mickey Lolich over 96 plate appearances and would be substituted, possibly with a hitter like Chico Salmon, who hit a much more acceptable .300/.349/.400 against the same pitcher.[2][3]

Use of the bench

Weaver made expert use of the bench. In the Oriole teams of the late 1970s and early 1980s, Weaver made frequent use of platoons, with the most obvious example being the use of Gary Roenicke and John Lowenstein in left field, absent affordable full-time solutions. Weaver also exploited a loophole in the designated hitter rule by listing a starting pitcher as a DH. This gave him another opportunity to exploit pitcher-batter matchups, in the case that the opposing starting pitcher left the game early because of injury or ineffectiveness before it was the DH's turn in the batting order. A rule was created to stop the use of this tactic, allegedly (by Weaver) because it was distorting pinch-hitting statistics.

Weaver pioneered the use of radar guns to track the velocity of pitches during the 1972 spring training season.

Broadcasting career

Orioles4 retired.png
Earl Weaver's number 4 was retired by the Baltimore Orioles in 1982

Between his stints as manager Weaver served as a color commentator for ABC television, calling the 1983 World Series (which included the Orioles) along with Al Michaels and Howard Cosell. Weaver was the #1 ABC analyst in 1983, but was also employed by the Baltimore Orioles as a consultant. At the time, ABC had a policy preventing an announcer who was employed by a team from working games involving that team. So whenever the Orioles were on the primary ABC game, Weaver worked the backup game. This policy forced Weaver to resign from the Orioles consulting position in October in order to be able to work the World Series for ABC.

Manager's Corner

While managing the Orioles, Weaver hosted a radio show called "Manager's Corner", in which he would give his views on baseball and answer questions from fans. In one infamous (but luckily unbroadcast) edition, Weaver gave hilarious off-colour answers to queries ranging from Terry Crowley, "team speed" and even growing tomatoes (one of Earl's hobbies was gardening). The tape has become legendary in Baltimore sports circles and has even been aired (in heavily edited fashion) on local sports radio. (A short film by Skizz Cyzyk featuring the full unedited version can be found here.)

Earl Weaver Baseball

In 1987, Weaver provided the AI for the computer game Earl Weaver Baseball, which was published by Electronic Arts. The game was one of the precursors of the EA Sports line.

External links

References

  1. ^ Mark Belanger Batting vs. Pitcher at baseballreference.com
  2. ^ Boog Powell Batting vs. Pitcher at baseballreference.com
  3. ^ Chico Salmon Batting vs Pitcher at baseballreference.com
Preceded by
Gene Woodling
Baltimore Orioles First Base Coach
1967
Succeeded by
George Staller
Preceded by
Hank Bauer
Joe Altobelli
Baltimore Orioles Manager
1968-1982
1985-1986
Succeeded by
Joe Altobelli
Cal Ripken, Sr.

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