Everywhere you looked, he wasn't.
"Earl who?" said first base umpire Al Clark.
"Miss him!?" said second base umpire Vic Voltaggio.
"I don't think anybody is going to miss him," said Mike Reilly, who was at third base.
"When you find that guy, you let me know," said home plate umpire Rich Garcia.
In the first official de-Weaverization, the Orioles lost to the Kansas City Royals, 7-2, without a whimper from the man who managed them for 14 1/2 years. And if Earl Weaver had been there? "They would have lost, 7-2," Voltaggio said.
"Maybe 8-2," Garcia said.
"He might have gotten mad enough for putting on that song," Reilly said, referring to the new Oriole anthem, "That Magic Feeling," a tune so atonal that boos blessedly drowned it out.
Weaver's relationship with the men who make the calls was never akin to a man and his dog, except that umpires thought he treated them like canines, kicking dirt and throwing things at them. So his absence at Memorial Stadium today did not exactly prompt fond remembrances from those accustomed to his tirades.
In years gone by, the third base umpire, perched perilously close to the Orioles' dugout, would have gotten an earful. "I heard a couple of whistles," Reilly said. "I thought maybe Earl was sitting up in the stands. But it was pretty quiet."
"It was a lot quieter," Baltimore DH Ken Singleton said. "A game like today (with Weaver) there would have been a lot of noise; there would have been a lot of things I didn't want to hear . . . Some people feel we won't be as good without him. We've heard that enough. It's as if we weren't good ballplayers all along. We want to prove we did a lot of playing and winning ourselves."
Garcia swore he never gave Weaver a thought until Kansas City's George Brett asked Rick Dempsey how he liked playing for Joe Altobelli. "I said, 'He's a good guy,' " Dempsey said.
"And I said, 'I think he's a great guy,' " Garcia said.
Altobelli seemed embarrassed by the testimonials. "I wish someone would tell my wife," he said.
The new manager, who has been answering questions about the old manager since he was hired in November, said, "I'll get them every day in every new town we go to. But I don't think a guy like him should be forgotten."
Umpires don't forget. And they think Weaver will be back. Next year. "He'll be the first million-dollar manager in baseball," Clark said.
"I'd like to take a year off and make a million dollars," Reilly said.
Reilly remembers the first time he ejected Weaver, who was arguing about balls and strikes. Reilly made sure to stand on the grassy part of the infield so Weaver couldn't kick dirt on him. "He said, 'Son, you can't umpire like that.' I said, 'Well, Earl, you can't argue balls and strikes.' I thought he'd go nuts. He just went back to the dugout."
Garcia remembers a game with Oakland in 1978 when Weaver came out to argue simply to give his reliever time to warm up. "I jerked him," Garcia said. "Larry Barnett and Jim Evans (umpires) were clapping. Now he goes into the dugout. In Oakland, he can't get to the clubhouse from the dugout. The Oakland manager, Jim Marshall, says, 'Hey, he's still in the dugout.' I go over and Lee May is standing like this."
Garcia jumps up, puffing out his chest, his elbows out to his sides as if pass blocking for a quarterback. "Lee closes the door to the bathroom," Garcia said. "I said 'Get out of the way, Lee.' The door opened in, I look in and I can't see him. So now I'm embarrassed. I look behind the door and there he is crouching, smoking a cigarette. He put that cigarette down and ran. All 200 people there saw it."
Garcia remembered another game at the end of 1980 when the Orioles and the Yankees played a marvelous series in Baltimore. Garcia was working second base that day. "He said something out of the dugout," Garcia recalled. "He came out and hit me in the eye with his hat. That was the extent of it. He was suspended for three days. He took the air out of the series by acting like a child.
"Joe will argue with you," he continued. "All these guys will argue with you. The difference between Earl and the rest was that Earl was not fair. He never gave umpires the benefit of the doubt."
Last year, when people asked where he would be on opening day 1983, Weaver replied, "The seventh tee."
He was unavailable for comment today. His wife said he teed off at noon.