Come on, Earl. Kick some dirt. Blister them with insults, climb down their shirt fronts, make them shake your dust from their shoes. So that everyone will know Earl Weaver has returned to put the argument back in the Orioles.
It was that kind of adoration that was flung at the shaggy and venerable head of Weaver tonight at Memorial Stadium, the kind that made the park fairly seethe with the anticipation and then mercifully let go with a roar of thrilling dimensions from 39,142 unafraid of sentiment.
As Weaver unexpectedly darted out through the cameras, the crowd cheered wildly. The noise grew with every wave and tip of the cap, and the big Bird mascot laid on his back in the infield and kicked his legs. After the Orioles completed their 9-3 rout of the Milwaukee Brewers, the fans summoned Weaver one more time, refusing to leave until he appeared from the dugout.
Orioles officials said that about 14,000 tickets were sold today at stadium windows. Ticket holders crowded Baltimore's 33rd Street in black-and-orange silk jackets, with armloads of children and Birdland seat cushions. Joe Altobelli, the nice man with the pleasant smile and the cleft chin, was a distant memory.
Paul the ticket scalper wandered in and out of the parking lot, looking unobtrusive in a gray tie, charcoal jacket and dark shades. Tickets went for face value early in the evening but as game time approached, prices suddenly doubled. In addition to a businessman, Paul is a heartfelt 20-year fan of the Orioles.
"It's almost a sellout," he said. "That's why I'm here. I didn't think Earl would come back, but he did. It's a miracle. That's his usual way."
Paul Depew, a Baltimore painter and musician, leaned against a car and yelled for tickets. He was looking to do better than his upper deck seats.
"I always come out to see Earl," he said. "He took a couple of years off, he got bored by retirement and now he's back where he belongs. Do you know the meaning of pizazz? That's Earl. That's why I'm having a hard time getting tickets."
Parking lots and concession stands were jammed by a crowd considerably above the usual Friday night average attendance of 32,000.
"It's ridiculous," parking attendant Robert Bailey said. "It's like the World Series. They're bumper to bumper and they'll never get out."
Joe Costa, head of stadium concessions, kept track of rising sales by walkie-talkie and worried about beer consumption.
"We're doing what we would normally do with a (large) crowd," he said. "They seem to be in a more festive mood. It's like an opening day all over again. We want them to be happy, but not to cause problems. So far we're holding our own."
Lou Kinzer and Charlie Hohman of Dundalk, Md., were Orioles fans long before Weaver. They wore matching caps and jackets and carried the ever-ready coolers.
"We love Earl the Pearl," Hohman said. "I came to see Earl. I know he'll win because he's magic."
"I played the numbers today," Kinzer said. "I played three 4s because that's Earl's number. He's dynamite. He loves to raise hell and the fans love him to do it. Altobelli had no kick. You got to have kick."
Not everyone reached the same pitch. Warehouseman Scott Terrett of Greenbelt, Md., was among the more pragmatic fans.
"I think it's great he's back and I think he better win," he said.
Usher Al Smith has been working at Memorial Stadium for 10 years. He recalled the first Weaver era without enthusiasm and favored coach Cal Ripken Sr. for the manager's job.
"Earl had his time and it's over," he said. "But watch him prove me wrong. Look at this crowd, they're from all over. You got to understand that Baltimore is a blue-collar town and he's a blue-collar guy.
"He's the underdog. He's not tall and he's not good-looking."
Beer vender Howard Hart said his nightly take would rise considerably. He evaluated Weaver's return from a salesman's point of view.
"It will increase ticket sales and increase beer sales, and help the club," he said. "From a fan's point of view, the Orioles were complaining all the time, arguing with the umpires because they didn't have anybody to fight for them. Now they have Earl, they can think about baseball and stop whining.
"Altobelli was a nice guy, but I'm a nice guy, and if I stop selling beer, they'll fire me. Earl has a sense of drama. That makes them excited and it makes them drink."
Michael Conva had come from Harrisburg, Pa. "I knew he'd be back," he said. "People cried when he left. Any true Orioles fan feels that way."