On my tombstone just write, ‘The sorest loser that ever lived.’” – Earl Weaver, quoted by Thomas Boswell, Washington Post, October 6, 1986
The likes of Bobby Valentine and Ozzie Guillen still come and go, but the manager’s office in baseball has increasingly become the domain of gentleman, at least that’s the image many try to portray. In the past, the likes of Weaver weren’t shy about exposing their gruff exterior to the fans, umpires, opposing teams, and anyone else willing to listen to their profanity laced elocution. Sorry Alice Sweet from Norfolk.
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Aside from his legendary arguments with umpires like Ron Luciano and fellow managers like Billy Martin (who once threatened to slap Weaver “just like you’d slap a girl”), Weaver is perhaps best known for his love of the three-run homerun. Unlike many other managers, Weaver never felt the need to justify his existence by over managing. Instead, he focused on fielding a team with good pitching and defense, and then he sat back and waited for the three-run homer. That philosophy has often been maligned, but Weaver’s .583 winning percentage as a manager speaks for itself.
In some ways, it’s a bit ironic that Weaver developed a managerial philosophy geared toward power and patience. Like his contemporary Billy Martin, Weaver was a scrappy second baseman known for his relentless hustle. St. Louis Cardinals manager Eddie Stanky once compared him to Enos “Country” Slaughter, the Hall of Fame outfielder who was always on the go. Unfortunately for the Omaha Flash, as Weaver was called during his playing days, that hustle never paid off in a major league promotion. Apparently, being scrappy wasn’t good enough.
If Weaver’s fondness for power was borne from his lack of it, his admiration for the walk must have been the influence of Stanky, who managed the big league club while Weaver toiled in the Cardinals’ farm system. Stanky, a middle infielder, didn’t have a much power, but his patience was supreme. In three seasons, he lead the league in walks and four other times ranked within the top five. To Stanky, who hit only .268, but had an on base percentage of .410, a walk was just as good as a hit. And, for 17 seasons in Baltimore, the same was true for every hitter in the Orioles’ lineup.
Over the coming days, many obituaries will be written about Weaver, who made a significant contribution to the game of baseball. Before getting too wrapped up in his achievements as manager, however, don’t forget his personality. Characters do count, and the great Orioles manager was a cut above them all. Don’t agree? Then go @#*&! yourself, as Weaver might say.