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Earl Weaver: Brilliant Manager Exemplified 'the Oriole Way,' WWII Era Values

BALTIMORE, MD - JUNE 30:  Former Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver address the audience during the unveiling of his bronze sculpture in the Legends garden before a baseball game against the Cleveland Indians at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on June 30, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images
James MorisetteCorrespondent IIIJanuary 19, 2013

Baltimore Orioles nation is grieving, after learning of the sad passing of legendary manager Earl Weaver.

Saturday ESPN reported the 82-year-old collapsed while aboard the Orioles Fantasy Cruise. The Orioles' official website claimed the cause of death was an apparent heart attack.

For older Orioles fans, losing Weaver has to be especially difficult. The St. Louis native exemplified “the Oriole Way” that nearly died before Buck Showalter breathed life back into it.

Weaver’s death comes on the near eight-year anniversary of the untimely passing of another Orioles legend: Elrod Hendricks. Hendricks died of a heart attack on Dec. 21, 2005, just before the same annual cruise was to leave port.

Just a few hours prior to Weaver’s death, Hall of Fame St. Louis Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst celebrated his 90th Birthday with 300 close friends in St. Louis (per Dave Jobe of Fox 2 St. Louis).

Now, according to Marty Noble of MLB.com, Cardinals' Hall of Fame Slugger Stan Musial has passed away at 92.  

The reason for revealing these ironies is not to scare fans into speculating about what iconic manager will walk through the valley of the shadow of death next.

In the sincerest sense, this has to do with the fact that Weaver’s death symbolizes the MLB is slowly losing an era of brilliant field generals, all of whom were born in a time when America faced incredible hardships as a growing nation.

Born in the midst of the Great Depression and World War II, Weaver is the member of an exclusive club of skippers that include Billy Martin, Gene Mauch, Sparky Anderson and Red Schoendienst.

This fine club is defined by the same hard-nosed passion, tough-as-nails mentality and "never take anything in baseball (and in life) for granted" approach, typical of many born during this time in history.

While major league history is rife with colorful stories about the aforesaid managers—some good, some bad and some worthy of Broadway production—behind the theater were men who truly cared about the health and welfare of their players.

And while cynics deployed Weaver and Company to the same mental camp as General George S. Patton, the men who played for these managers loved taking to the baseball battlefield for these fearless leaders every summer.

This shows in the major league record books: Weaver, Anderson, Martin, Mauch and Schoendienst combined for a 7,870 managerial wins.  

As a baseball fan, I deeply respect and admire these men because they fought tooth and nail for what they believed in. They also fought for what was fair (which is maybe why umpires feared Weaver most of the time).

I also admire these men because I see this same tough World War II era mentality in my grandmother, a metro Detroiter who is also in her 80s.

My grandmother was the Earl Weaver of our family. She was the wife of a major league prospect turned Army Air Corps engineer aboard B-17’s during WWII. Like Weaver, my grandmother was a tough cookie but also a caring person … and she never let our spirits and stomachs run empty.

For this, I am grateful.

Equally grateful is Orioles nation. For as Baltimore begins to grieve the loss of Weaver—on this, the day the great Edgar Allen Poe was born—fans should take time to reflect on the seemingly endless cabinet of great moments this legendary manager inspired. 

Fans should also wonder if Weaver will track down Sparky, Gene or Billy for a cold one, once he gets settled in the kingdom.


Also Read: Irony Abound in Deaths of Stan Musial, Earl Weaver

Follow Mongoose Morisette on Twitter.  

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