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O's Weaver started career in Minors
Looking back on Hall of Fame skipper who died at age 82
01/19/2013 7:11 PM ET
The fiery Earl Weaver managed a dozen Minor League seasons before his call-up.
The fiery Earl Weaver managed a dozen Minor League seasons before his call-up. (AP)

Orioles Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver died early Saturday of an apparent heart attack aboard a team-themed cruise. He was 82.

Dubbed the "Earl of Baltimore," he will be remembered for many things: standing much taller than his 5-foot-7 stature, outsmarting opponents from the dugout, arguing with umpires on the field and -- if you remember -- supporting Cal Ripken Jr.'s move from third base to shortstop.

Oh, and Weaver won games. A lot of them.

"Earl Weaver was a brilliant baseball man, a true tactician in the dugout and one of the key figures in the rich history of the Baltimore Orioles, the club he led to four American League pennants and the 1970 World Series championship," Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement.

What is not as widely known, perhaps, is that Weaver's victorious ways started well before his 17-year stint in the Majors. He was awfully successful in the Minor Leagues, too.

Weaver played second base for one of the best teams in Minor League history, the 1950 Winston-Salem Cards, six years before beginning his managerial career with the South Atlantic League's Knoxville Smokies. His club finished in eighth place that season, but it proved to be an anomaly.

Weaver was at the helm of six more teams over the next 11 seasons. During that time, his clubs finished first or second eight times, securing league championships with the Fox Cities Foxes (1960) and Elmira Pioneers ('62, '64). He won 163 games over his final two seasons, both with the International League's Rochester Red Wings, now the Twins' Triple-A affiliate.

Then he began his big league tenure, which culminated with a 1996 induction to the Hall of Fame.

"Earl Weaver stands alone as the greatest manager in the history of the Orioles organization and one of the greatest in the history of baseball," Orioles chairman of the board and CEO Peter Angelos said in a statement. "This is a sad day for everyone who knew him and for all Orioles fans. Earl made his passion for the Orioles known both on and off the field. On behalf of the Orioles, I extend my condolences to his wife, Marianna, and to his family."

Also a member of the Red Wings Hall of Fame, Weaver returned to Rochester in 2007 for the dedication of a statue of former team president Morrie Silver.

"Earl and my father had a very special relationship," Red Wings CEO Naomi Silver told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. "They had such great admiration and respect for each other."

Andrew Pentis is a contributor to MLB.com and writes the Prospective Blog. Follow him on Twitter at AndrewMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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