On the day that the Orioles are holding their annual FanFest, news has spread through the Baltimore Convention Center that Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver passed away last night. He was 82.
Weaver died while on a cruise ship, according to people close to the Orioles organization.
Weaver managed the Orioles from 1968-82, and again from 1985-86. He won four American League pennants and one World Series, and compiled a 1,480-1,060 record.
The Orioles honored Weaver with a statue unveiling on June 30 in the former picnic area beyond the bullpens at Camden Yards. He was invited each spring training to address the players and coaches.
Weaver lived in Pembroke Pines, Fla. with his wife, Marianna.
I'll pass along more information as it becomes available here at the Convention Center. A banner with Weaver's No. 4 is hanging above the main stage, and his jersey is displayed on the left side.
Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer said he received the news around 3:30 a.m. via a phone call from former Orioles pitcher Scott McGregor, who's on the same Orioles-associated cruise.
"Anybody who saw him at the statue ceremonies knew he wasn't in the best of health," Palmer said. "We had known for years that he was on different things, blood thinners. He's just been in ill health.
"Scotty said he had a bad cough and the doctor did everything he could to revive him. I asked about Marianna and obviously she's very distraught."
Here's more from Palmer, who will appear later today at FanFest:
"When I looked over at Earl during the Brooks ceremony, he was in tears. It's tragic that he passed away, but not only fans got to celebrate, he got to celebrate a legacy that he was such an important part of.
"For me, he gave me the ball every four days. He was about winning. He told you what he needed to do and the guys who did it go to play for us. He was pretty black and white.
"You didn't get handed a job by Earl. You had to earn it and we all knew that and it made us better.
"Earl very rarely got out-managed. He had great players and he told you exactly what your job description was going to be.
"He didn't have the smartest-guy-in-the-room syndrome back then, but he was one of them.
"It was the perfect relationship. We won, he was tough, we got our World Series checks. It worked.
"You don't ever forget an Earl Weaver, and not just if you were an umpire. Fans, players, everyone."
When I offered my condolences to Palmer, he replied, "It's everybody's loss. That's the thing."
The Orioles issued a statement from owner Peter Angelos: "Earl Weaver stands alone as the greatest manager in the history of the Orioles organization and one of the greatest in the history of baseball. This is a sad day for everyone who knew him and for all Orioles fans. Earl made his passion for the Orioles known both on and off the field. On behalf of the Orioles, I extend my condolences to his wife, Marianna, and to his family."
Here's a statement from Cal Ripken: "Earl was such a big part of Orioles baseball and personally he was a very important part of my life and career and a great friend to our family. His passion for the game and the fire with which he managed will always be remembered by baseball fans everywhere and certainly by all of us who had the great opportunity to play for him. Earl will be missed but he can't and won't be forgotten."
Addressing the season-ticket holders at Fanfest, manager Buck Showalter said, "Every time I look at an Oriole, it's going to be missing a feather now without Earl."