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Legendary Orioles manager appears at Sears opening

March 25, 2002|BY ANDREW SCHOTZ

The hat would spin around. Choice words would fly.

Look out! Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver was livid again.

Orioles fans stopped at Sears on Saturday to get Weaver's autograph and think about the good ol' days. Weaver was a celebrity attraction for the grand opening of the new Sears that opened Thursday at Valley Mall.

There wasn't time to bring up each of the 90-plus times Weaver was ejected from a game; that might have taken all day.

What impressed Rick Simons of Hagerstown most about Weaver was his phenomenal recall of baseball rules.

"The man knows the rule book like Billy Graham knows the Bible," Simons said.

Weaver guided the O's to 1,480 wins in 17 seasons, including the world championship in 1970. He was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996.

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Some managers won more, but few put on such a show.

Donald Biesecker, 72, of Waynesboro, Pa., said he loved Weaver's "flamboyance."

He recalled the time Weaver came out of the dugout to argue a call. The umpire said "safe"; Weaver said "out."

Weaver was so angry it took three umpires to walk him off the field when he was thrown out of the game.

"He was still out," Biesecker assured Weaver on Saturday.

Ralph Stines was working at Sears as a Maytag representative. He stopped at Weaver's table to get an autograph for his 3-year-old son, Jack.

Stines, 44, of Myersville, Md., said he grew up near Washington rooting for the Senators. But as an all-around baseball fan, Stines said, it's a thrill to see such a legendary manager.

"You're the best one we ever had," Vernon Knable of Hancock said as Weaver signed Knable's 1982 Orioles program. Cal Ripken was a rookie in 1982, and his signature is elsewhere in the magazine.

Knable, 41, wandered over to Sears from his job at U.S. Cellular in the mall. He said that Weaver was truly mad, not showboating, whenever he caused a scene on the field.

"He had a point to get across and he usually got it across," Knable said.

Rick Simons, 39, had Weaver sign Terry Cashman's album "The Earl of Baltimore."

His brother, Larry Simons, 33 - an Orioles fan "since I was in diapers" - brought a Topps baseball card from 1969, Weaver's first year managing the O's.

The autograph line was mostly men, but included a fair number of women and children.

"I didn't know who he was 'til he told me," said North Hagerstown High School student Orland Dean, who came to the store with his father, Rick, a longtime Orioles fan.

Weaver, 71, lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and came to Hagerstown for the day. He stays busy playing golf, going on cruises and visiting his children in Baltimore, St. Louis and Houston.

He said he doesn't miss managing, but always checks the Orioles' box score first in the morning paper.

So, were the rants and raves an act?

Not at all, Weaver said.

"I was doing things trying to keep my job," he said.

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