In 17 years at the helm of the Baltimore Orioles, something unheard of for a manager these days, his teams won 1,480 games. They won four American League championships and the 1970 World Series. Sadly, Mr. Weaver died Jan. 18 while on a cruise. If you are going to go, go big, right? He was of 82. The cause of death seems to be an apparent heart attack, but details of his death are not immediately known.
As the Orioles’ manager, Weaver’s winning percentage was .583. That’s the ninth best of all time. He was named Manager of the Year three times. His teams had 100-win seasons five times. He was thrown out of 98 games for arguing with umpires, his calling card. The Orioles retired his No. 4 uniform and he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996.
Weaver managed the Orioles from 1968 through 1982. However, by 1985, Baltimore’s beloved O’s had fallen upon hard times. The “Earl of Baltimore” returned in what proved to be a futile effort to right the ship. At the end of the 1986 season, Mr. Weaver retired for good. After a sixth-place in the American League in 1967, the Orioles came storming back behind Mr. Weaver’s leadership in 1968, finishing second.
The next year, they won the American League East division championship with a record of 109-53. That was the best in team history. The Orioles swept the Minnesota Twins 3-0 in the AL championship series, but lost the World Series to the “Miracle” Mets. In 1970, Mr. Weaver led the Orioles to 108 victories, paced by the slugging of first baseman Boog Powell, who had 35 home runs and 114 runs batted in and was named the American League’s most valuable player. After again defeating the Twins in three straight games for the AL pennant, the Orioles advanced to the World Series and beat the Cincinnati Reds, four games to one. Twice more, in 1971 and in 1979, Mr. Weaver took the Orioles to the World Series, only to lose both times to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
As an on-the-field manager, Mr. Weaver was primarily a motivator who seldom dwelled on the techniques of hitting, fielding or pitching. The Washington Post reported, “The only thing Weaver knows about a curve ball,” Oriole Hall-of-Fame pitcher Jim Palmer once said, “is that he couldn’t hit one.”
Off the field, Mr. Weaver kept his distance from his players, sitting alone on airplanes when the team traveled. He could be harsh and sarcastic, and his verbal clashes with Palmer were well publicized. “Any difference we ever had was overshadowed by the fact that his teams always won,” Palmer said in 1996, after Mr. Weaver’s election to the Hall of Fame. “I enjoyed our relationship even though there was some tension.”