Smart man in O's dugout

Smart man in O's dugout
January 19, 2013, 6:00 pm
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A diminutive man physically, Earl Weaver stood tall over the baseball managing fraternity. Tim Kurkjian of ESPN, writing in remembrance of the Hall of Fame Orioles manager, who died early Saturday, said: “He was just smarter, in a simplistic way, than the rest.”

One of Weaver’s simple rules was against bunting. Kurkjian quotes him as saying, "You only get 27 outs; don't give any one of them away.” This wasn’t — and still isn’t — a widely held belief in baseball. For example, men revered as great strategists, such as Gene Mauch, loved to employ the bunt, to which Weaver would implore Orioles pitcher to throw strikes. “He would scream, ‘They're giving us an out; throw the ball over the plate!’” Kurkjian writes.

Though combative with umpires, Weaver didn’t want his players getting into fights on the field sparked by beanballs. “If there's a fight, our guys and their guys are going to get ejected,” Kurkjian quotes Weaver, “and our guys are better than their guys, so we're going to lose on that exchange.”

During those glory years that Weaver managed the O’s, his guys generally were better than any of the other guys, but that was thanks in no small part to the guy in the dugout.

Weaver’s relationship with the media recalls a less adversarial time, and Kurkjian reflects on his years covering Weaver by writing: “In 33 years of covering baseball, no one has taught me more about the game than Earl. My most cherished days as a writer were the days before a game, sitting on the Orioles bench, listening to, and watching, Earl.”