Loss Of Greatness

Baseball lost two of its inner-circle Hall of Famers over the weekend, when both Stan Musial and Earl Weaver passed away.

I’m too young to remember Stan Musial. To me, he’s always been a revered name with ridiculously awesome statistics on the back of his baseball card.

Earl Weaver, however, is another story.

I saw Weaver blow-ups on TV when I was a kid, and I saw him bring his Baltimore Orioles into Oakland in the mid-1980s, when he made his ill-advised managerial comeback. But most of what I know about Weaver comes from books written by an umpire.

American League umpire Ron Luciano wrote a series of funny and entertaining books in the 1980s, and I gobbled them all up as a teenager. In these books, he discussed his career-long feud with Weaver, which started in the low minor leagues and continued in the majors.

If I didn’t have about 15 books in my “To Read Pile,” I would go back and re-read the first Luciano book. I wonder if it is still fun, as an adult 28 years later.

Weaver himself has a must-read book: his 1984 book Weaver On Strategy is generally considered to be the most important book ever written by a manager. In it he discusses many of the strategic ploys he developed. The book has riveting sections on his scouting reports and his in-game maneuvering.

If you love baseball, you can knock out a big chunk of the off-season reading Earl Weaver related stuff.

Weaver Links:

  • Weaver is believed to have the record for most times ejected. His Retrosheet page has a list of his ejections with a brief explanation of the reason why. My favorite is “shredded rulebook.”
  • The Sports Illustrated vault has Tom Verducci’s 2009 feature on Weaver, this is tremendous.
  • The SABR biography of Weaver runs through some of the strategies he developed, some of which were banned, and many of which are still used today. The piece also has the background stories behind the widely viewed (and profane) Weaver YouTube videos.
  • Former general manager Dan Evans remembers his first meeting with Weaver.

Musial Links:

Non Musial/Weaver Links:

We should have some Rainiers-related news later this week. The Mariners hold their annual Pre-Spring Training Media event on Wednesday, and some good tidbits usually come out of this. Unfortunately I will miss it for the first time in years due to a scheduling conflict (a Rainiers speaking engagement), but the team will have somebody there to get some info. The plan is for that to be the next blog update, probably on Thursday.

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2 Responses to Loss Of Greatness

  1. John Carroll says:

    I remember them both very well. As a kid I wrote to Musial to ask for his autograph.He sent me a 5×7 autographed picture. He did especially well against the Dodgers whom I hated [as a kid]. He and DiMaggio were heroes to me.
    Years later the Orioles became my team and at one game I went for crab cakes between innings. I got on the wrong line and had to start all over. Meanwhile those of us on line could hear the crowd going wild. I must have been gone 1/2 hour and when I got back to my seat I found that a player hit a home run that was called fowl and then fair. Actually I don’t remember which way it went but it was against the Orioles and Weaver and Luciano went at it the whole time I was getting my crab cakes.
    The Orioles were really good and I believe one season they had 5 pitchers that won 20 games.

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