Earl Weaver was a great manager. Weaver knew that most players couldn’t do everything and he found the right spots to maximize the skills they had. Look up the careers of John Lowenstein, Gary Roenicke, Wayne Garland and Mike Torrez among others. They never did as well for other teams as they did for the Orioles. Do you remember Sam Horn, a low-average power hitter who played for the Orioles after Weaver’s era? Earl would have known what to do with him. He would have gotten 350 at bats, hit .250 with 25 home runs and 70 RBIs. He would have had a long career. One of Weaver’s greatest moves from switching Cal Ripken from third base to shortstop. It took extra nerve because the Orioles had traded their third baseman, Doug DeCinces, to make room for Ripken. Ripken certainly didn’t look like a shortstop but Weaver knew he could do it.
Earl’s last game with the Orioles (until he came back in 1985) was the final game of the 1982 season. I had tickets for a game in June but traded them in for the final game since I figured it wouldn’t be crowded. I was certainly wrong.
The Orioles had been chasing the Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the American League East. The Brewers finished with four games in Baltimore and came here with a three game lead. The Orioles won the first three so the teams were tied on the last day. The starting pitchers were Jim Palmer (Orioles) and Don Sutton (Brewers). It was like a playoff atmosphere. Unfortunately, the game was bad as the Brewers crushed the Orioles. After the game, the fans stuck around to give Weaver an emotional farewell. It’s one of the most memorable moments I have seen as a sports fan.
Here are two pieces of memorabilia which I later got signed by Weaver. There was a “Thanks Earl” Day on September 19, 1982. I think both the small poster and the program are from that day. I had the program framed with my ticket stubs from September 19th and the final game.
More Earl Weaver stuff: