The Orioles hit another home run with their statue ceremony today for Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver. It was so well done and seeing Earl on stage, and players like Cal Ripken, Frank Robinson, Eddie Murray and Jim Palmer sitting in the front row, would make any O's fan feel a sense of pride.
"Just looking at that first row there, how could I lose," Weaver said at the beginning of his speech. "It's been 26 years since I last put on a Baltimore uniform. During that time I've made many trips back to Baltimore and each time I'm amazed at how the fans remember the past. It's great to be remembered.
"Right now, standing here, I'm going to be remembered," Weaver said to loud and long applause.
"I had one of the greatest coaching staffs that was ever put together. I don't have time to mention them all, but I do want to mention a few. Billy Hunter. Jim Frey. George Bamberger. Ray Miller. Frank Robinson. Ellie Hendricks. Right-hand man Cal Ripken Sr. Thank God he brought the kid out to the ballpark and had me hit him groundballs out at shortstop," Weaver said to more applause.
During his speech Weaver thanked Orioles owner Peter Angelos.
"I heard a few boos out there and they're uncalled for. Mr. Angelos has been great here," Weaver said. "Yeah, they haven't duplicated the success that these gentleman produced, but they are on their way with Dan Duquette and Buck (Showalter)."
That last comment produced some of the loudest cheers of the ceremony.
Weaver thanked former St. Louis Browns and Orioles farm director Jim McLaughlin for signing him to his first managerial contract. He thanked former Orioles GM Harry Dalton for elevating him during the 1968 season from first base coach to Orioles manager.
"How that gentleman ever had enough guts to talk the Hoffberger family into hiring me, I'll never know," Weaver said of Dalton. "He must have been a heckuva talker. He's passed on now but thanks to Harry and the Hoffberger family for giving me a chance.
"The players themselves, they have to receive all the credit. I put their names in the lineup, but that don't win ballgames. What they did on the field is win ballgames. I was lucky enough to be the guy to put the names in the lineups.
"The fans throughout the years have been the greatest. They couldn't have been better. This naturally is a dream come true, but my wish is to come back and watch Buck manage in playoff games and World Series," Weaver said as the crowd erupted yet again.