Thinking back, I'm so glad that the Orioles returned to the playoffs last year because that meant Earl Weaver got to see his Orioles win again.
We didn't know it then, but we know now that was his last season watching his beloved Birds. One reason we know Buck Showalter is great as a skipper is that we have Earl to compare him to.
I'm so glad I was there in September 1982, when the Orioles lost to the Brewers but Earl got a sendoff that was incredible. I'm glad I was there in Cooperstown in August 1996 to see Earl join the greats that he belonged with at the Hall of Fame. I'm glad I was there in 1979 when, as a Towson State student, I interviewed him in the dugout at Memorial Stadium for the campus radio station. I probably couldn't have looked more starstruck and in awe, but Earl treated me as if I were a seasoned media veteran.
I'm just glad I was there so many times for so many wins and so many memories on 33rd Street.
I'm sad that Earl died, but I'm thankful that he passed our way. I'm thankful he got to live a very full life of 82 and he showed everyone that a man who was short of stature and never made the majors could lead a talented group of players so well and few managers ever stood taller.
Isn't it fitting that during what would prove to be his last baseball season he saw both his own statue ceremony at Camden Yards and got to see his Orioles as winners again?
Earl is one reason why Baltimore loves baseball and we saw that again yesterday with 18,500 fans at FanFest. Many were there because of the love of the game they learned through their parents and/or grandparents. Parents and grandparents who fell in love with baseball and the Birds watching Earl's Orioles. They've passed it on to today's generation.
The Earl of Baltimore is gone, but never forgotten. How lucky we are that he passed our way.
What are your memories of Earl?
Back in June: Click here and here to read stories from the day Earl's legends statue was unveiled.
Few could speak as well about Earl as ESPN's Tim Kurkjian did yesterday.