Orioles fans adored him, Yankees fans hated him and baseball loved him. Earl Weaver, the legendary and often feisty manager of the Baltimore Orioles, has died at the age of 82.
In 1968, Weaver became the first base coach for the Orioles but eventually took over as manager in July. It would end up being a position he held on to for 14 years until 1982, and he would eventually lead Baltimore to it’s second ever World Series title in 1970.
Known still to this day as the “Earl of Baltimore”, Weaver’s tenure as manager saw the Orioles win six division titles, post five 100-win seasons and four American League pennants. But Weaver also has another very distinct record to his name, as “The Earl” was ejected from as many as 91 to 98 games during his coaching career.
Only John McGraw rivals Weaver in terms of career ejections, and that’s just counting the regular season and not Weaver’s post season ejections. One of Weaver’s more memorable run-ins with an umpire occurred back in 1977 when Weaver objected to a tarp being on the bullpen in Toronto. Weaver argued that the bricks holding the tarp down could trip his outfielders if they chased a foul ball and demanded to tarp be removed. When the umpire refused to remove the tarp, Weaver pulled his team off the field and the umpire was forced to call a forfeit — the game remains the only forfeit in Orioles history.
Weaver also infamously feuded with umpire Bill Haller in 1980. As legend has it, Weaver had run afoul with Haller in 1972 when the manager publicly called for Haller to be banned from calling a Detroit Tigers game in which Haller’s brother was playing. During a game in 1980, Haller was mic’d up for a documentary about the life of a baseball umpire.
Haller called a balk on Orioles pitcher Mike Flanagan, which launched Weaver out of the dugout and into a profanity-laced tirade directed at Haller. The result is one of the most classic moments in Weaver’s tenure as manager of the Orioles and still stands as one of the best manager meltdowns in baseball history.
Weaver’s impact was felt off the field as well. In 1987 Weaver assisted in the creation of ‘Earl Weaver Baseball’, a game that turned out to be a massive hit for the relatively new video game company called Electronic Arts. The success of ‘Earl Weaver Baseball’ helped put EA on the map and paved the way for the John Madden games, a series that is one of the most popular video game franchises in the world.
Among video game critics today, ‘Earl Weaver Baseball’ still ranks among one of the most influential games of the video game era.
Weaver was one of a kind, and the likes of him haven’t been seen since he retired from baseball. He was honored for his legendary career in 1996, when the BWWA inducted him into Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame. When he was inducted into the Hall of Fame (yes kids, they actually used to do that), he said, ”Without Jim McLaughlin and Harry Dalton, I wouldn’t have made it. I couldn’t have done any of this.”
But it’s always been clear that without Weaver, the Orioles couldn’t have done anything they did either.