Weaver Says Statue Dedication Ranks With Being In Hall of Fame
Earl Weaver always offered a piece of his mind during 17 seasons as manager of the Baltimore Orioles.
But, minutes after a statue of his likeness was unveiled at Oriole Park at Camden Yards' Legends Park, he struggled to find the right words.
"There aren't enough words in my vocabulary to describe how I'm feeling, no shape or form," Weaver said. "It's just stunning."
The Orioles are honoring six members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame with statues this season, which is the 20th anniversary of Camden Yards' opening. Looking out to some of the players that helped define his career -- Jim Palmer, Frank Robinson, Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken Jr. -- Weaver was modest about his achievement, saying: "How could I lose? There's no way I could lose."
Weaver, a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame's 1996 class and the Orioles Hall of Fame, won 1,480 games for a 58.3 winning percentage, which was fifth among managers when he retired for good in 1986. He managed teams that won 100 games five times and won the 1970 World Series,
Weaver looked out to the first rows of people assembled and saw his former players.
"If they weren't there, I probably wouldn't be there," Weaver said. "I had some pretty good ball players."
But, Jeff Idolson, president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, said Weaver was much more than lucky. The fiery Weaver, known for his arguments with umpires, was also an innovator, who put strong emphasis on statistical analysis.
"Earl managed with intensity and flair," Idolson said. "When Earl's time came for consideration for the Hall of Fame with the Veteran's Committee, his body of work truly spoke for itself. There was no one smarter in the dugout, no one that respected the game more than he does, even today, no one who managed the game with more passion and intensity than Earl, especially when the chips were down."
Weaver is one of 19 managers in the Hall of Fame, and Idolson said Weaver was a major champion of the Cooperstown institution.
"I can tell you he wears the Hall of Fame mantle well, wherever he goes and with whomever he meets," Idolson said. "He is a very proud Hall of Famer. We're lucky to have him in Cooperstown, as you all were fortunate enough to have him here in Baltimore for 17 seasons."
Weaver said the statue unveiling rivaled being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
"I say they have to stand together," Weaver said.
Weaver said that during the 26 years since he was an active manager, he has marveled at the number of people that talk about his time in Baltimore.
"It was great to be remembered," Weaver said. "It was great to be asked for an autograph."
Louis Angelos, son of majority owner Peter G. Angelos, represented the club in speaking about Weaver. Angelos mentioned Weaver's first retirement game in 1982, when Memorial Stadium fans roared their approval of the Earl of Baltimore for minutes on end.
"Fans didn't want to see Earl go," Angelos said. "It was Orioles' fans way of telling Earl that they loved him."
Weaver's affinity for current Orioles manager Buck Showalter was clear Saturday. At one point, he said it was his dream to return to Baltimore with Showalter leading the Orioles in the playoffs. That line drew major applause from fans.
When Weaver first said that winning was why Baltimoreans loved him, he was asked again why he resonated with fans.
"I went a little wild on the field some times," Weaver said with a smile.
Posted June 30, 2012