Baltimore Orioles Team Picture 1980 Topps – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for November 30, 2017


Earl Weaver only won one World Series as a manager. Isn’t that amazing? That stat almost makes me do a double take. He was such a dominant and influential manager and the Orioles had so many wonderful teams and so many trips to the post season.

And yet he is tied with Bob Brenly for World Series victories.

That isn’t a swipe at Earl Weaver. Many great managers only have won it all once. Leo Durocher has one to his name. Bobby Cox, while a rancid and disgusting human being, was a great manager and just had one title to his name.

Hell, Al Lopez is in the Hall of Fame as a manager and he never won the World Series. So it isn’t like winning multiple titles is a prerequisite for being considered to be an All Time great.

It just seems like Earl won more. The Orioles have won 3 World Series titles in their history. Each one had a different manager. Hank Bauer won in 1966. Mr. Weaver won in 1970. Joe Altobelli won in 1983.

OK, now hold on. Joe Altobelli is a fine baseball man. He had a long and distinguished career and his managing the 1983 Orioles to the World Series title over the Philadelphia Phillies was a fabulous capper.

BUT COME ON! That was a team developed and formed by Earl Weaver! Can’t Earl be given credit for 1/2 a World Series title for it? Earl was in the booth with Al Michaels and Howard Cosell when the Orioles won that title. He was gracious towards Joe Altobelli, not taking any of the credit away from him.

But you know deep down, he knew he should have had that title. Earl Weaver came back after his retirement to manage a few other seasons in the 1980’s but didn’t come close to another title.

This picture shows the team from 1979, who participated in the first World Series I remembered watching. They lost to the Pirates despite having the best record in the regular season and running up a 3-1 lead in the series.

Weaver’s Orioles lost to some classic teams, like the 1971 Clemente Pirates and the We Are Family Bucs of 1979. They also fell to the Charlie Finley A’s in 1973 and 1974. They also beat the Big Red Machine in 1970 and arguably the best A’s team of the 1970’s, the 1971 squad.

Earl Weaver was considered to be one of the best managers of his day and would even be MORE respected today. The sabermetric crowd would love how he hated bunts and sacrificing. Teams should study how he broke in young pitchers, like Jim Palmer, through the bullpen and built up their strength.

He kept winning with a .583 lifetime winning percentage and some of the best arguments in baseball history.

He won a lot. It seemed like he even won more. Earl Weaver was one of the best ever and he didn’t need multiple titles to prove that.

Now let’s enjoy his greatest argument ever.

Earl Weaver 1978 Topps – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for November 2, 2017


OK, today concludes the Manager Card section of the Card of the Day. I realized that I, for no intentional reason put two Brewers managers in the bunch. Maybeit was a lack of organization on my part.

But it was always my intention to finish with Earl Weaver. Why? Because he might have been the greatest manager of all time and I wanted to end with a bang.

He never played in the majors. That’s true. The whole “Did you ever do it?” mentality for managers was irrelevant for the best one ever. He played in 1,431 minor league games in the Cardinals, Pirates and Orioles organizations

He played between 1948 to 1960 for teams like Houston, Omaha, Winston Salem, West Frankfort, New Orleans, Denver and Louisville. But only for 4 games did he reach as high as Triple A. He couldn’t hit but he had a head for the game.

Earl was a player manager in the minors before retiring from playing and piloting 3 minor league championships teams. In 1968, he was named part of the Orioles staff and that year replaced Hank Bauer as manager.

They were just 2 years removed from the first ever World Championship in the history of the franchise, dating back to their days as the St. Louis Browns. And that in many ways is the greatest legacy of the Earl Weaver Baltimore days.

YES, he inherited a terrific team anchored by Jim Palmer, Brooks Robinson and Frank Robinson, all Hall of Famers. But lots of managers inherit terrific teams. And Palmer was no Hall of Famer until Weaver got his hooks into him.

And by the time they were in the 1979 World Series, the team, save for Palmer, was basically a brand new squad.

A franchise forever associated with losing had a stretch of brilliance and contention usually reserved for franchises like the Yankees, Dodgers or Cardinals.

Between 1968 and 1982, the Orioles had 11 seasons where they won at least 90 games. Five of those years, they cracked 100 wins. They went to the World Series 4 times, winning the 1970 title. They also won the 1973 and 1974 AL East titles and lost the Division on the last day of the 1982 season.

Weaver retired at the end of 1982 and the 1983 squad, inherited by Joe Altobelli, went on to win the World Series. (Weaver came back to manage in 1985 and 1986, spoiling his great curtain call.)

He developed the likes of Hall of Famers Cal Ripken and Eddie Murray, Cy Young winner Mike Flanagan and a pipeline of solid players like Scott McGregor, Doug Decinces, Bobby Grich and Don Baylor.

He won 1480 games as a manager and looked the part. He was short, gray haired, short tempered and looked MUCH older than he really was. In his famous tirade against Bill Haller he was only 49. He could swear, get ejected and be the colorful character we love.

And yet time has been extraordinarily kind to him. Even though he was a Hall of Fame manager in his day, Earl Weaver might have been either underrated or ahead of his time.

As old school as he looked, he understood the importance of on base percentage and analytics. He looked at match ups and computerized stats before anyone knew what those even were. In his prank audio with Tom Marr where he gave a pretend F bomb laced interview, he talked about his disdain for “team speed.” His reasoning was not wanting players picked off and not scoring.

He was doing Moneyball before Moneyball was a thing.

He also was an expert in bringing up pitchers, not blowing their arms out but breaking them in as relievers and stretching them out to long term careers. There was an “Oriole Way”and it came from a man who on the surface was a screaming cartoon figure but in reality was a long term forward thinking baseball genius.

The Orioles haven’t won a pennant since 1983 and went through long stretches without an October. From 1983 to 2012, they only saw October twice.

Weaver died in 2013 as part of a celebrity cruise in the Caribbean. Was the greatest ever? He belongs in the conversation and I can’t imagine him not getting either a Gold, Silver or Bronze in the discussion.

Either way, let’s enjoy Earl in action.

Sully Baseball Podcast Rewind – May 5, 2015


On May 5, 2015, I played the second part of my interview with former All Star pitcher Don Stanhouse. We talk about the 1979 Orioles, a stuffed gorilla, his hair and how he got Reggie Jackson mad at him

Enjoy this Sully Baseball Podcast Rewind

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – May 5, 2015