Orioles manager Buck Showalter met with reporters behind the main stage at the Baltimore Convention Center after signing autographs and appearing at two fan forums. It's been a busy day.
Showalter has been deeply moved by the passing of Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver, who had an open invitation every spring training to come inside the clubhouse and talk to the players and coaches. Showalter would absorb every word like a sponge. Even if he knew the answer ahead of time, he still wanted to hear Weaver's take on it.
"This year meant so much to him and the Orioles meant so much to him," Showalter said. "There's a lot of emotion in the building today. Some of it is with Earl. A lot of it is. You see a lot of people talking about him, sharing a lot of emotions that everybody has. But I'm just so thankful for the time I had with him.
"It's something that you look from afar and you hope that it's as good as you think it is. Getting a chance to spend some time with him, spring training especially last year, we had him down speaking and basically having a classroom with our coaches and managers in the minor leagues and everything. Riding around in a cart and talking about baseball, listening to him. I'll never forget we went to a drill and he said, 'Oh, we were doing this 40 years ago. You guys just got more fungoes and more coaches. Maybe a different machine. But we're all trying to accomplish the same thing.' He gave me time. And that's the most precious thing.
"I think everybody is still trying to come to terms with their thoughts and their feelings. He meant so much to so many people. There's a reason why they called him, 'The Earl of Baltimore.' There was such a connection with the way he went about his business."
Showalter said he kept Weaver's No. 4 in the dugout and used it as a good luck charm.
"Before every game, I had a little thing where I would just kind of look at it," he said. "Sometimes I'd rub it if we needed an extra out or a big hit. He didn't let us down too much. I got a four-run (inning) out of it one night.
As Showalter deflected the importance of his contract extension, he said, "That isn't what drove Earl."
"It took me so long to get to the point where I could call him 'Earl' instead of 'Mr. Weaver.' He wasn't too happy about that for a long time. I look back and there was so many things that happened this year, the statues with Earl, it makes you realize sometimes you really don't have any control over what's going to happen, which is obvious to everyone here. But I was just so glad that we honored him again. Obviously, we're still trying to get our arms around the different ways we can honor Earl's memory."
Showalter also referenced Weaver later in his interview. He kept coming back to the Hall of Famer.
"We've got some things we're going to have to do better," he said. "Just like Earl used to tell me, they used to botch a rundown, they used to botch a relay, but they didn't repeat it. We've got some things we've got to improve on, and our guys know that. We've got some things we've got to solve.