During a press conference after his statue ceremony today, Earl Weaver remembered a phone call he got around the All-Star break in 1968. It was from then-Orioles general manager Harry Dalton.
“We were sitting by the pool relaxing. I was first base coach at the time and it was the first time I didn’t have to worry about making up a lineup and I was enjoying it,” Weaver said. “Harry said, ‘I want you to be the manager.’ I told (my wife) Marianna and she said, ‘Is that good?’ I said I don’t know.
“I was pretty happy as the first base coach. At that time, you had to get five years in for your pension and that was what I was shooting for. It lasted a lot longer, thank God.
“You know, there are not enough words in the vocabulary to describe my feelings, in no shape or form (about today). It’s just stunning. Mind-boggling. I’m trying to come up with some stuff like you guys do, but I’m not very good at it.”
Weaver talked about his first three full seasons as Orioles manager. The team won 109 games in 1969, 108 in 1970 and 101 in 1971.
“What comes to my mind, is thank God those guys were there and thank God we won 100 games three years in a row that I could come back for the fourth,” Weaver said.
Weaver retired for the first time after the Orioles missed out on a playoff berth on the final day of the 1982 season. The Orioles then won the World Series the next year. Did Weaver walk away too soon?
“I’d like to have another championship ring. But I didn’t begrudge them because they were my boys and they really performed well. It was a cinch with Eddie (Murray) and Cal (Ripken) on the same team that they were going to win some games,” Weaver said.
Weaver remarked about managing some great players in the minors like Mark Belanger, Boog Powell, Paul Blair and Davey Johnson. He said he could see then the Orioles had some talent making its way to Baltimore. He got there as well.
In 1996, Weaver took his place at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, getting the sport’s highest honor. He said today’s honor felt similar to that.
“I say they have to stand together,” he said. “The Hall of Fame, I don’t want to say I did that myself. The players got me there and the players made this day possible. But Mr. Angelos didn’t have to do this. How can I thank him enough for having this day. It’s just amazing.”