Evans: A chat with Earl Weaver

From SABR member Dan Evans at Baseball Prospectus on January 21, 2013:

Earl Weaver was a winner. His .583 career winning percentage as a manager is the ninth-best all-time, and only Al Lopez has posted a better winning percentage since World War II. Weaver’s first three full-season Oriole clubs all advanced to the World Series, winning 318 games in that span. Baltimore averaged 96 wins in his first 12 seasons as skipper, and he managed for 27 years in the majors and minors before his club posted a losing record.

Sure, his Oriole clubs were loaded with stars like Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, and Jim Palmer, but Weaver was an impact manager independent of his players. He won because he was able to combine his baseball genius with the ability to keep his talented club focused and motivated.

Weaver took over the helm of the Orioles from Hank Bauer in the middle of the 1968 season, when he was just 37 years old, and he was the perfect manager for an organization that prided itself on pitching and defense. But Weaver was an innovator and a contrarian, too. In 1975, he used radar guns in the Orioles’ spring training preparation and also relied on in-depth advance scouting reports long before that practice was popular.

In July of 1982, I was in my first month as a full-time traveling member of the Chicago White Sox and their great field staff that included Tony La Russa, Charley Lau, Ed Brinkman, and Jim Leyland. We were in Baltimore for a three-game series and dropped the second game of the series when a rookie shortstop named Cal Ripken, Jr. hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to produce some Oriole Magic in Memorial Stadium.

Hall of Famer Don Drysdale was one of the White Sox announcers at the time, and he was quickly becoming one of my mentors. We talked immediately after the tough loss, and Drysdale mentioned that Weaver was a master, a manager I should pay close attention to and learn from.

Read the full article here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=19440

Originally published: January 21, 2013. Last Updated: January 21, 2013.