When Weaver met this ump, sparks flew

When Weaver met this ump, sparks flew
January 19, 2013, 11:15 am
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Earl Weaver, the legendary Orioles manager who died early Saturday at 82, was known mainly for two things: winning games and arguing with umpires.

Weaver’s best-known foil among the men in blue was Ron Luciano, a flamboyant sort who never adhered to the notion that the best umpire is the one you never notice.

In an article in Sports Illustrated, Luciano recounted his first meeting with Weaver, when both were in the minor leagues. In that initial four-game series, Luciano ejected Weaver in every game, the last time before the game started.

“When he came up to the plate to exchange starting lineups with the other manager, he looked up at me — Earl is 5-7 and I'm 6-4 — and cracked, ‘How 'bout it, Luciano, you gonna be as bad tonight as you've been the first three games?’

“I gave him the only possible answer. ‘Earl,’ I said, ‘you're never gonna find out.’”

And that wasn’t the only time it happened. After both made it to the majors, Luciano did the same thing before the second game of a doubleheader, during the exchange of lineup cards at home plate.

“Baseball is Earl's religion, and he thought I was being sacrilegious. He saw the ballpark as a beautiful chapel, but when I was around there was a problem with bats in the belfry.”