I got into baseball in the late 70s, a time that can best be described as the Golden Age of cantankerous, aging managers. In Los Angeles you had Tony Lasorda, who had not descended into self-parody. Cincinnati had Sparky Anderson. Pittsburgh, you had Chuck Tanner - geniuses all, or so it seemed to a kid who got to watch the dugout antics of Danny Ozark on a regular basis.
And in Baltimore, you had the best of them all, Earl Weaver, the philosopher-king who'd hold press conferences in the nude, get prescriptions exclusively from Doctor Longball, unleash Brother Low on the world, and legendarily if apocryphally blister fellow Cheltenham alumnus Reggie Jackson into silence with a brutal, relentless application of logic.
He passed away today on an Orioles-themed cruise. The official report says that he died of a heart attack. A tiny part of me would like to believe that it was provoked by a cap-tossing, dirt-kicking tirade against the umpire of the shipboard shuffleboard tournament, that seeming to be the most appropriate way for him to go. The rest of me is just sad he's gone.
Bye, Earl. Nine-year-old me says thank you for the memories. Godspeed, and rest in peace.