Earl Weaver died. That’s so bleepin’ horsebleep.
No one in baseball in my lifetime ever talked half as well on even half as many subjects as Earl. The sarcastic jokes get repeated most. The wisdom often gets overlooked. So do his emotions that he kept hidden because they ran so deep. So, let Earl Weaver, who was my grad-school professor in baseball for nine seasons on the beat , have the last word. He usually did anyway.
●On why he had so many shouting matches with his players: “I thought we still had free speech in this country. . . . A ballclub isn’t a family. But it is together more than a family. You can’t hold your feelings in that long.”
●On various umpires, always on the record and by name: “Evans is incompetent. . . . [Those other two] are almost as incompetent as Evans. . . . The blind one. . . . The worst. . . . Not smart enough to remember the rule book. . . . If he ever touches me again without that blue uniform on, I’ll consider it assault and his family will have to fly in to see him at Johns Hopkins Hospital.”
●On managing: “A manager wins games in December. He tries not to lose them in July. You win pennants in the offseason when you build your team. . . . Smart managing is dumb. The three-run homers you trade for in December will always beat brains. . . . I don’t welcome any ‘challenge.’ I’d rather have nine guys named Robinson.”
●The only quote he ever tried to take back after he’d said it, because he didn’t want to hurt Gene Mauch’s feelings: “Gene Mauch — play for one run early, lose by one run late.”
●On his obsessive competitiveness: “A man and work . . . that seems to be the way it’s got to be in this world.”
●On why he tore up his written speech, ad-libbed and ended up crying at the mike on Brooks Robinson Day: “I’d like to be like Brooks, the guy who never said no to nobody, the ones that everybody loves because they deserve to be loved . . . those are my heroes.”
●On why he wasn’t mad at me for losing track of time and interviewing him in the dugout during the national anthem: “This ain’t a football game. We do this every day.” Then he muttered, “The horsebleep cameras are always trying to catch me smoking during the anthem.”
●On managing in the lowest rung of the minor leagues: “You’ve got 100 more kids than spots on the team. Every one of them has had a goin’ away party. They have been given the shaving kit and the $50. ‘See you in the majors in two years.’ You write on the report, ‘4-4-4 and out.’ That’s the lowest rating in everything. You say, ‘It’s the consensus among us . . .’ Some of ’em cry. Some get mad. But none of ’em will leave until you answer ’em one question: ‘Skipper, what do you think?’ And you gotta look every one in the eye and kick their dreams in the [butt] and say, ‘Kid, there’s no way you can make my ballclub.’
“If you say it mean enough, maybe they do themselves a favor and don’t waste years learning what you can see in a day. They don’t have what it takes to make the majors. Just like I never had it.”