Q: Fifteen seasons. Successful seasons. Fifty-two years old is not a time when most people think of retiring. Why now?
A: This is 35 years of baseball for me. Twenty years in the minors, 15 in the major leagues. Going to the ballpark every day, night games at 3:30. Getting home at 12:00 or later should the game go (on). Going to the park at 9:30 or 10:00 on Sunday. Seven days a week, seven months a year. I've missed two days in 35 years and that's when two of my children got married. The other two got married in the wintertime. Now that's a job.
Playing baseball is fun. If I could play you'd never retire. Because that's what you do, you play baseball. But managing is work. It's constant decisions of whose feelings you want to hurt all the time. Taking out a guy for a pinch hitter, what you're doing is telling him I've got somebody better here to do the job. You're not giving him a chance to win. You've got 16, 17 regulars, infielders, outfielders and a catcher. You only put nine of them in the line-up. Each and every day you've got six guys whose feelings are hurt. (Who) want to get in the line-up and play baseball. That's (where) play-me or trade-me stories come from, which are only natural.
Confrontations with your ball players. Correcting their mistakes, constantly. Because if you're going to win, you have to do things right. In order to do things right, each and every time a ballplayer -- not an error now, not a physical error, but a mistake -- base-running mistake, in the wrong position on cut-offs, -- you've got to be out there telling them about it. They're like anybody else, they don't like to hear it. A lot of players don't mind, but a lot of them don't want to hear it. Sooner or later you're gonna get the "Why are you always picking on me?" and it's going to be a confrontation. (Players arrive) late to the ballpark. Different things that come up that a manager can't turn his head on. Or you're not doing your job. You're not going to win. You're just constantly hollering at people, constantly hurting people's feelings. Constantly putting your decisions in front of the country. Being second-guessed by the media. It's all part of the game. It's all part of the job. And I accepted it because I had to make a living.
Now I don't have to make a living. I've saved my money. I've been frugal. I don't want money figures in (this interview). But (I've) got deferred money, from my pension, and investment income. Now why should I work? Understand? It's time to go home with my wife. I don't know if I have within myself the drive and the desires to do those things (any more). Those things were done because I had to make a living. I had to put meat and potatoes. I had to send my children through college. It forced you to do it. Now I'm a lucky son of a gun because I'd rather do it in baseball than in the business world or in anything else. I wouldn't have had that drive in any other profession to start with. I did have it in baseball because that was my first love. But it takes that drive, it takes that desire.
I don't want to do that any more. I don't want to step on toes. I don't want to run out on the field and get in those arguments with the umpires. And if I don't want to do that starting out the season, then I'm cheating the people that are paying their money. And I'm cheating my owner. And I'm cheating my players, because those things are going to have be done by somebody whether it be me or not. But if I don't start pinch hitting because I might hurt somebody's feelings; if I turn my head on mistakes to avoid an argument, or a confrontation; then I'm not a good manager.
Now I, within myself, I have doubts as to whether I can do that again over a 162-game schedule. I knew I could do it this year. Because you're looking at the end. I kept driving right on down to the last weekend. We had, in Baltimore, pinch-hitting. Having guys out in the line-up. Playing John Shelby (in center field) in place of Al Bumbry, when (Mike) Caldwell started (as pitcher for the Brewers). That hurt me. That hurt me deep. Now if I knew I had to do that to keep my job -- . It really hurt me. But I knew I had to do it. I wanted to play Al so bad, because he's a switch hitter and of course he never did hit Caldwell right. But in the big games I had wanted Al out there. And the same with (designated hitter) Kenny Singleton, who had an off year right-handed. And I had to play Al, but Kenny has done so much for me over the years, that there was a tendency to play him. But to be honest to my owner and the people and try to win the ballgame I had to do those things. I hated doing it that last weekend.
Q: Earl, you've had three days now to look back at the last day, Sunday.
A: I haven't finished about the retirement.
Q: I'm sorry.
A: Well at any rate, I'm tired of walking away, out of the house away from my wife at 3:30. I'm tired of packing a suitcase and leaving her for two weeks at a time on a road trip. That's another thing I couldn't look forward to next year. I got by it this year and kept the drive and desire because I knew it was the last. But I couldn't think of going to spring training next year and doing it all again.
Now, the last month -- the pennant drive and all of that -- was wonderful. The excitement of it, even though you get nervous. It's what it's all about. That's what you fought so hard for through the year. And that made it easier. If we'd have been eliminated Sept. 15, I don't know what I would have done the last 15 days. I don't know if I would have walked into the owner and asked him let's get somebody in here to finish up the season or what. Because there would be nothing to do these things for. At least the players gave me that. Right up to the last day, I enjoyed the job.
I don't know if I could start off Feb. 24, and go through it again for seven months. While I have those doubts within me, I'd just be cheating somebody if I took a job. Now onto the next one.
Q: Sunday. Standing ovation. Fifteen minutes. After the game they're calling your name.
A: Well it's certainly wonderful to know that the work has been appreciated. It was work. I got to know that the people appreciated all of these things that I went through for 15 years. It was wonderful It's something I'll never forget. Carrying it down to the last day. Up to the last hour, in a career of 35 years, there was still somebody there, that appreciated your work. I feel within myself, they knew how hard it was for me to do all of these -- well it wasn't hard for me to do, because I had to do them. To know it was appreciated is what really makes you feel wonderful. They're just outstanding baseball fans in the Baltimore-Washington area. They are. It's like no other place.
Q: Beyond the winning and losing, what kind of satisfaction has come from the game, through the years?
A: It's winning and losing. Nobody'd come to the park if they didn't care who won or lost. That's what it's all about. Satisfaction -- we go back to wins. Satisfaction not to have lost my job and had to go looking for another one. I got satisfaction out of that.
Q: Did you ever fear you were going to lose it, ever?
A: Well that's another thing. A manager knows that sooner or later you're going to run into that season where you're going to get fired. But I don't think any of us think of being fired, we think of -- we're back to the same -- we think of winning the next game because you know if you win the next game you've got a chance to win the next one. And if you win enough of them, you're not going to be fired. So the thoughts are always what can I do to win? You call your coaches in. Who have I got out of order here? Who can I place up there to get on base? Those thoughts are always like that.
Sooner or later the ax will fall. It didn't fall on me. And maybe it wouldn't. Because Baltimore has got a heck of a ball club. I guess you've got a period of grace here. But you can't keep losing on the last day. Sooner or later you've got to win on the last day or win before it, or the ax will fall. But again you don't worry about that. Your worries are how you win the next game. Because then everything else takes care of itself.
Q: The satisfactions where one-sided?
A: Well, the satisfaction is the record. Four, five or six hundred games over 500. But it all goes back to winning. Five times, 100- (win) seasons. I'm proud of that. I think I could do it within the next two or three. But with these feelings of doubt, it might never get there.
Q: Earl, what about the converse. What has baseball cost you? What has it not allowed you to do that you would have liked to have done?
A: Everything. Everything that you can think of. Everything that people do on Saturdays and Sundays when they have 8 to 5. Everything that people do when they go home and kiss their wife right before dinner. The things that they do with their lives. What a husband does with his wife, during dinner, after dinner, before they go to bed.
When they get up, well they have to go to work in the morning. But my thoughts were concentrated solely on my profession for 35 years and my mind might be one million miles away when we're having coffee in the morning. I do get to do that. Along with that, it kept me from being with my children when they were growing up.
I went through a divorce. In minor-league baseball, the last two years that I was married to my first wife, I spent 10 months away from home and my children. The only time that we could be together because of financial reasons at that particular time was when school was out in the summer. We didn't want to disrupt our children's education and we had a house in St. Louis. I'd leave in February to go to the major-league camp, then along to the minor league camp. Then manage my ball club, whether it be Aberdeen, S. D., (or) Elmira, N.Y. I'd leave in February, she'd join me in June. We'd be together half of June, July and August. They'd go back to school. The minor- league season would end shortly after. But to supplement my income, I managed winter baseball for four or five seasons. That constituted leaving Oct. 1. November. December. From the instructional league you got home the first of January. I had a month. From Latin American leagues, you didn't get home until the first week of February. Then I'd be gone the last week.
So what did it cost? It cost everything when you look at it that way. My children are all married, grown, living away, four grandchildren and I have had no time whatsoever to see them. Time in the winter time. But when you try to get to four cities, three other cities, it's almost impossible. Then you can say, do this one this year, this one this year, this one this year, you know, visit them. But then you're seeing your kids and your grandkids once every three years. Well there's a reason for retirement.
Q: You look back now, is it worth it?
A: It might not. As you're fiark ghting 20 years of minor-league ball, you have to remember, if you want to call me a successful major- league manager, salaries at that (minor- league) level aren't that much. I had a great ball club. Got to go into a pretty good salary class by my third year. When you win two straight American League pennants and the world championship in your first two years of managing, your salary is going to jump. So by the third and fourth year, I had enough to -- Well, I fought child support all the way through.
You know I had nothing, ever. I remarried in '64, and things have been wonderful since then, not because of the divorce or anything else but my (second) wife did go with me to winter ball and we did take my step-child -- her daughter -- out of school and bring her with us. Which made it that much more enjoyable. And we bought a house in Elmira, N.Y., and I worked there in the wintertime. She had a job. Financially we started to feel okay. Then I got the major-league coaching job and major-league manager's job. We bought a house in Baltimore.
Everything's been wonderful. God's been good to me but he hasn't -- . Everything that has happened to me has been on the upswing from that point on. Everything. I've worked hard to keep my job and that's what it was. I worked hard to get raises and now finally after I'm in the major leagues for a few times I can start (paying) for the kids' schooling and everything else. I can start sending them some money.
They became adults when I started making some money. The regrets were that I didn't have more to give them. More time to give them. More love in my minor-league days or early managerial, major-league days. And now I want to take some time and do whatever I possibly can for them and see them all. But now I couldn't do nothing for 'em. That's what it boils down to. I regret that I couldn't have done more for them or seen them more. But if I'd tried anything else or tried to do it any other way then I wouldn't have the time to do what I plan to do right now. And that's what that boils down to. I don't know if that answers your question.
Q: Let's take it down to the field now. For many years, for many games, the image is Earl Weaver jaw-to-jaw with (umpire) Marty Springstead or someone. Is that the real Earl Weaver?
A: Well, that's the Earl Weaver who was trying to support the kids. The reason I'm doing that is to be able to do this. That was to keep my job. I felt all those things -- like hollering at ballplayers or arguing with umpires -- were things that I had to do in order to win ball games and now -- . I wish I could have argued with umpires like (legendarily phlegmatic former Yankees and Astros manager) Bill Virdon. I wish I was that type of person. But I'm not.
Q: The calm type? The kind who would go up there -- .
A: I wish I could have accomplished everything or I wish everything would have happened the same without me being so tension- wracked or without showing my emotions or my temper. I wish I could have accomplished everything. I don't know if I could have or if I couldn't have. That's something we'll never know. Certainly my mother used to call me and tell me don't get so excited. She's still telling me the same words. And I say, that's the only way I know how to do it. That's what I think the job calls for. I've seen other people be successful. But not many of them keep their jobs 15 years. So I did what I thought I had to do.
Q: Off the field who is Earl Weaver? What is he like?
A: Well, I'm a Christian and I believe in God. And I try off the field more than anything else not to bother a soul and to walk in the steps of Jesus Christ. The other thing is forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. I don't want to hurt nobody's feelings. I don't want to be responsible for any person anywhere ever feeling bad.
Q: Is baseball separated from all this though? When you step into the dugout is this -- .
A: Well, here's the thing. God has to judge this. When I say Terry Crowley pinch fiark hit for Richie Dauer after Richie Dauer has hit a home run on my day to win the game for me -- I'm hurting his feelings. I know that. But I don't know where it's covered in the Bible, I know it's got to be somewhere, that I'm allowed to do that. You know, it gives Terry a chance anyway. I'm making Terry feel good even though I'm hurting Richie's feelings. But the other thing is I'm a hard liver to a certain extent.
Q: To what degree, in what way?
A: Well, I'm sure you know of the (drunk)- driving charges (for which Weaver lost his driver's license indefinitely in February). Right?
Q: Uh huh.
A: All right. Now. I have a night off. We only have two Sundays at home a a month. So that gives you maybe 12 nights to spend with your wife. Twelve off days. I want to go out with her. I want to take her to dinner and have a few drinks. And that's what I do. And if there's nothing happening tomorrow immediately I'm going to probably overindulge. Not meaning to. I'm going to sit and enjoy that evening. And I'm going to make that evening last. Possibly sometimes too long, as we know. But that is the only relaxation I get.
Heck, when you know that tomorrow is going to be off and the day after is going to be off you can cool it a little. In the summertime when you get those off days I'm going to take advantage of them because that's the way I got the tensions out. That's the way I got my feelings of hurting other peoples' feelings off my chest.
Q: Since '68 how have you changed?
A: I'm richer. But we've lived on the same money throughout that career. I'll be taking more money just now than I ever did in any one year that I took from the Baltimore Orioles because I deferred my salary. It's going to come to me up to 1990 and that don't count this (Orioles') consultant's job. But I'm living in the same house I bought in '68. I'm doing the same things. There wasn't time to do anything else. There's no time to spend money.
Now along with that hard-living business, I want this known, that in 35 years I've never had a drink on any day that I had to go to the ball park. Or night. You know. You don't take a drink until after the ball game's over. That's almost a standard rule in baseball. You know what I mean? And I even do it in this job. I'll do it in any job I have. As soon as this ball game is over tonight I'm going to stop at (California Angels' owner Gene) Mr. Autry's party and get a beer. And relax. And tonight now I might have a few extra because we're not working tomorrow. All we're doing is flying. I'll tell you what I did learn. I'll never get behind the wheel of an automobile again after I've hard one drink, whether it be a beer or anything. Not once. There's no need for me to. I can afford to have somebody drive me.
Q: When somebody today hears the name Earl Weaver what do you think they think of?
A: Umpires and arguments and pennants. Evidently the people of Baltimore thought of wins and pennants. The two ovations the day -- I don't want you to say that I said ovations. The appreciations.
Q: But they were.
A: Well, the appreciations couldn't all have come with arguing with umpires. There had to be a little bit in there for winning. You know what I mean? And remember only that I was a sore loser, that's all. That's good enough for me.
Q: If you have your choice what do you want history to know about Earl Weaver?
A: Sore loser is good enough for me.