The baseball world has lost one of its great characters with the passing of former Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver at the age of 82.
A fiery manager whose legendary arguments with umpires led to nearly a hundred ejections during his career, Weaver was the leader of baseball’s most consistent team from the late 1960s through the mid 1980s.
Weaver spent nearly 20 years as a minor league player and manager before joining the Baltimore Orioles as their first base coach in 1968.
Less than four months later with the Orioles struggling, Weaver replaced Hank Bauer as manager and the rest was history. The Orioles went 48-34 over the rest of the 1968 season and the next year won 109 games and reached the World Series.
After losing the 1969 World Series to the Mets, the O’s would not be denied the following year as they went 108-54 and defeated the Cincinnati Reds in five games to win the second World Series in team history.
Baltimore won more than 100 games for the third straight year in 1971, but for the second time in three years dropped the World Series to an underdog opponent with a seven game loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
After falling back with an 80-74 record and third place finish in 1972, the Orioles rebounded with consecutive division titles in 1973 and 1974. They finished second in the division three straight years before placing fourth in 1978 despite winning 90 games.
In 1979 the Orioles won 102 games and reached the World Series for the fourth time in the Weaver era. Unfortunately, the Orioles again were unable to claim the World Championship as the Pirates rallied to win the final three games and the championship.
That would prove to be the last post season trip for Weaver. The Orioles won 100 games in 1080, but finished second in the AL East to the New York Yankees.
In 1982 the Orioles nearly reached the playoffs, but a loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on the final day of the season kept the Birds out of the playoffs.
Weaver retired following the 1982 season with an impressive record of 1354-919 (.596 winning percentage) with six division titles, four American League pennants and a World Series title.
After moving to the ABC broadcast booth for two and a half years, Weaver returned to the Orioles in 1985 to take over a floundering squad. Unfortunately, this time he could not perform any magic. The Orioles were 53-52 the remainder of the season and the following season struggled during the second half as they finished with a 73-89 record for the only losing season during Weaver’s career.
Weaver finished his career with 1,480 wins and a .583 winning percentage that ranks him 22nd all-time in victories and ninth in winning percentage.
He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996. In 2012, Weaver and the other Hall of Famers in Baltimore Orioles history were each honored with a special statue at the Camden Yards Stadium.