A pinch hit from earlweaver fan.....appropriate.
Every reader of Battersbox old enough to follow baseball in the sixties through eighties will have their own reasons for honouring Earl Weaver, one of the most wonderful personalities in baseball and among the most successful. Here are my personal top ten reasons:
1. Earl Weaver was the thinking man’s manager, long before Bill James, Billy Beane, and all the rest who have stood on his shoulders. He rejected what everyone else conventionally thought, substituting instead what he saw with his own curious eyes, and sticking with the courage of his convictions
2. Most of all, he cared intensely about worked, as he saw it. Pitching, defense, and three-run homers were famously at the heart of his success formula, and he built teams that could deliver that formula consistently, without fail. At the same time, he hated the hit-and-run, disdained the sacrifice bunt, and de-emphasized the stolen base – to his mind, they did not work. He hated giving up any of his precious 27 outs
3. As a boy in the sixties with, as yet, no Toronto Blue Jays, I decided to cheer for Earl Weaver’s Orioles, a team I could get behind, knowing they would not let me down, year in, year out. He was focussed on winning, he knew what it took to win, and he delivered a lifetime .596 winning percentage over his career, meaning that he was never fired once over his 17-year major league span
4. He was the first manager I knew about who insisted on a club philosophy about how to practice and how to play baseball at all levels in the system – all the tactical skills that every Oriole prospect had to know to make the club. Someone did not get promoted from AAA Rochester unless the basics were deeply embedded
5. His teams taught me about the power of matching genuine stars with key (niche) role players. For every Eddie Murray, Frank or Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer, Dave McNally, or Boog Powell, he had many like Mark Belanger, Bobby Grich, Tippy Martinez, or Elrod Hendricks who were critical pieces carefully selected and combined for the team to prepare for any eventuality both in-season and in post-season play
6. His teams delivered wonderful achievements – e.g., getting much stronger down the stretch after September 1 than up to that point or the 30 gold gloves. My favourite was the special time when Jim Palmer, Dave McNally, Pat Dobson and Mike Cuellar all won 20+ wins in the 1971 season. Sure, W-L is not that meaningful a stat for any one pitcher, but we may never see its like again for four pitchers on one team in one season
7. He was a guy with a famous temper with umpires or with a player that made him mad, but when it counted, he had great patience. Many is the year when he would have one of his most reliable players (especially relievers) start the year poorly, and he just kept putting him out there. He knew this guy would come around and he knew he would need to depend on him later in the year. He got the results he expected
8. Way back then, he loved making use of statistics – most of all, knowing whom each of his batters and pitchers performed well against. Today, the available tools would be so much richer and deeper, but he had great success managing the match-ups of his players to specific opponents, and managing the platoons that took best advantage of players’ strengths
9. He knew how to motivate players – not by being their friend, but by setting high expectations and insisting on them. He rarely spoke to his best players through the year. He never wanted to be inhibited from pulling a player in the moment, if the team required it
10. For Earl Weaver, the success of the team was everything. It was no coincidence that his teams were filled with quiet professionals who led by example. He created an environment where any new players who joined the team found themselves surrounded by those who expected to win, which became a recurring – and self-fulfilling – prophecy.
He was quite a guy. I will always be a total fan. Chances are, if you read Weaver on Strategy, you will be too.
Thank you to earlweaverfan