Earl Weaver passed away last Friday at the age of 82.
As a member of the media, I had the honor of talking to the Orioles Hall of Fame manager on a couple of occasions.
As a Baltimore native, I grew up watching the fiesty field general.
Like most lifetime Oriole fans, I am proud of the fact that he represented my team and my city for many years.
As a 13-year-old in 1978, I met Earl Weaver at Memorial Stadium. A night that I will never forget.
At that time, I played for a CYO travel league baseball squad that used to take on teams throughout East Baltimore. Our coach, Brother Tom from St. Michael’s on Lombard Street, was a former minor league ball player who, I guess, had connections with the Orioles.
On an August Monday evening, the Orioles were playing the Yankees on ABC’s Monday Night Baseball. Me, and about four other guys on our team, were invited by Baltimore third baseman Doug DeCinces to spend a night with the Birds.
Jim Palmer was pitching for us and I was pumped.
We got to go into the Orioles’ clubhouse and sit in the dugout prior to the game.
I was blown away.
Sitting in the Baltimore Orioles’ dugout before a game with the Yankees on national television? Are you kidding me?
We were sitting there watching Howard Cosell interview New York star Reggie Jackson. Yes, it was awesome.
Anyway, Earl Weaver stops by and gives us words of encouragement. I could tell he was pressed and a little stressed, but he was still gracious enough to give us a few minutes of his precious time.
He told us how great baseball was and wished us well.
That night, Cal Ripken Sr. and Eddie Murray also gave us genuine pep talks. And I got to meet Cosell.
The Baltimore Orioles have always been my favorite team and Earl Weaver has always been my favorite manager.
I will be forever grateful to him for the experience he gave me, and a few friends, on that August night almost 35 years ago.