Earl Weaver — R.I.P.

Hall of Fame and World Series winning baseball manager of the Baltimore Orioles Earl Weaver (seen above having one of his more docile discussions with the men in blue) died earlier today at age 82, while on a cruise. From The Baltimore Sun:

“On my tombstone just write, ‘The sorest loser that ever lived,’ “ he once said.

Weaver, the Orioles’ chain-smoking, umpire-baiting, tomato-growing manager who led the team to four American League pennants and the 1970 world championship in his 17 years here, died late Friday night while on a baseball-themed cruise aboard the Celebrity Silhouette. The Orioles confirmed his death Saturday morning but did not release a cause.

The Hall of Famer, who lived in Pembroke Pines, Fla., was 82.

“Earl Weaver stands alone as the greatest manager in the history of the Orioles organization and one of the greatest in the history of baseball,” Orioles owner Peter Angelos said in a statement.

Brooks Robinson, the Hall of Fame third baseman, called Weaver’s passing “a terrible day. I loved that guy. He made every player who ever played for him a better player.”

Weaver piloted the Orioles from 1968 to 1982, and again in 1985-86, earning nicknames like “the little genius” and “the Earl of Baltimore.” His teams won 1,480 games and lost 1,060, and his lifetime winning percentage (.583) ranks seventh all-time and fifth among managers in the modern era who managed 10 years or more. Five times, the Orioles won at least 100 games for Weaver, who was 5-feet-7 but stood taller in his players’ eyes.

“Earl was one of a kind,” said Hank Peters, the Orioles’ president and general manager from 1975 to 1987. “He was little, but he produced mighty results. He had the ability to get so much out of his players. He was the master at giving them the opportunity to do their best. His record attests that he made the right moves.”

One of the game’s great strategists, Weaver was also a visionary and a genius at maximizing a 25-man roster’s potential. In his pocket, he carried index cards with “the minutiae of the American League on them.” He loved players who got on base and hit home runs. He abhorred small-ball strategies that wasted outs. And he trumpeted these theories long before they were brought into Hollywood vogue.

“Having Earl gives us a four-game lead on everybody,” pitcher Sammy Stewart once said

Weaver’s death came on the eve of the team’s annual FanFest at the Baltimore Convention Center.

Rest in Peace Earl Weaver… the sorest loser who ever lived.

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