I didn’t know Earl Weaver well, only a little bit.
He was at the helm when I started working for the Orioles as a 19-year-old in 1985. He was tough and rugged, spoke his mind, but was always fair. He was nice to those of us who were beginning our careers in sports. When he had to be somewhere and we needed to escort him, he didn’t put up a fuss. Players and managers were not as standoff-ish back then as they became during my later years at the ballclub.
Several of us took a road trip to New York one year; Earl and Cal Ripken Sr. were there in the lobby, heading to the bar. When they saw us, they chatted happily with us. They asked us to join them and wondered where we had been in the city that day and what we were up to later. Of course, we had been to the O’s vs. Yankees game, we said. We had ridden the subway home with Eddie Murray. Imagine that…all of us on the subway with a Hall-of-Famer.
Years later, Earl was kind enough to agree to go on Orioles Cruises, and I had opportunities to get to know him on those boat trips and witness Earl and his followers on the cruise. He was the life of the party. He was entertaining. People wanted to chat with him and sit at his table. They wanted to hear his legendary stories.
Earl Weaver was iconic in Baltimore and was lovingly called the Earl of Baltimore. When people say Earl Weaver and Jim Palmer detested each other, I kind of laughed. How could you detest someone like Earl? He was a little spitfire. When he walked into a room, it immediately became electric. He was a manager, and a manager’s job is not to be liked, it’s to win games.
Baseball people know that. And we respect Earl for the job he did and for the person he was. He will be missed.