Saturday, January 19, 2013
Earl Weaver died early Saturday morning. The Hall of Fame manager of the Baltimore Orioles and patron saint of Marlins Diehards has now achieved sainthood. Read his NYT obit here.
Weaver understood many of the game-changing concepts described by Michael Lewis in Moneyball decades before the book was ever written. From a fantastic 2009 Sports Illustrated profile of Weaver written by Tom Verducci:
That was my favorite right there, on-base percentage! Don Buford wasn't getting to play under Hank Bauer [Weaver's predecessor]. He'd get in a ball game every now and then and feel like he had to get three or four hits. I told Buford, 'I'm willing to play you as long as you have a .400 on-base percentage.' All of a sudden he becomes a regular, and he's walking a hundred times and hitting right around .300." Buford had played 669 career games before Weaver was named Orioles manager on July 11, 1968. His OBP was .335. He played 617 games over the rest of his career, all for Weaver. His OBP under Weaver was .388.Weaver understood sacrifice bunts are dumb, "team speed" is overrated ("You get [bleeping] little fleas on the [bleeping] bases getting picked off, trying to steal, getting thrown out, taking runs away from you. Get some big [bleeps] who can hit the [bleeping] ball out of the ballpark and you can't make any [bleeping] mistakes."), and the keys to success are pitching and the three-run homer. That's why Billy Beane told Verducci in 2009, "I made no bones about it when I first got the job [as Oakland GM]: I always wanted the next Earl Weaver as manager."
Weaver also grew tomatoes beyond the outfield wall at old Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, had a special pocket sewn into his uniform so he could sneak a cigarette here and there, and was of course a prodigious malcontent with umpires: