Baseball’s Day of the Dead

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Two legendary baseball hall of famers died within hours of one another on Saturday, which is one of the few things they had in common. Everyone *loved* Stan Musial and nobody particularly liked Earl Weaver but they were both brilliant baseball men.

St. Louis Cardinals icon Stan Musial was perhaps the greatest hitter of his day but was overshadowed by more colorful and surly players such as Ted Williams. Stan the Man was just too darn nice to be colorful BUT he was one of the few white players who went out of their way to be kind to the wave of African-American players who integrated the sport during the 1940’s and 1950’s.

Longtime Baltimore Oriole Manager Earl Weaver was a bantam rooster of a man: short, cocky, loud and argumentative. Weaver practiced the tenets of “moneyball” when Billy Beane was in grade school. He was thrown out of 97 games and was a notoriously heavy smoker who nicknamed one of his pitchers “Full Pack” because the dude drove him crazy by not throwing strikes, which, in turn, made him smoke like a fiendish chimney. Btw, the player’s name was Don Stanhouse whose non-Earl Weaver nickname was Stan the Man Unusual, which was-you guessed it-a play on Stan the Man Musial and a good one at that.

The other thing the two have in common is that Joe Posnanski wrote great tributes to Stan the Man *and*the Earl of Baltimore after they died. Joe took a lot of flak for his recent biography of Joe Paterno BUT he’s the best sports prose stylist this side of Roger Angell or the late Red Smith.

4 thoughts on “Baseball’s Day of the Dead

  1. As was pointed out by a Cardinal fan friend of mine, Musial, who wore #6, was often quoted as saying if you’re not fifteen minutes early then you are not on time. He died at 5:45 or in other words fifteen minutes to six.

  2. I never really got into Earl Weaver until long after he had stopped managing. I loved Terry Pluto and scrounged an old copy of the two books he wrote with/about Weaver: “Weaver on Strategy” and “The Earl of Baltimore.” Both great reads, both revealing of the man.
    Far too many people want to be friendly to people for the sake of being friendly. Others want to be assholes to prove a point. Earl Weaver was who he was for the sake of attaining an important (to him) goal. That’s something worth noting.

  3. I think it was Orioles pitcher Mike Flanagan who dubbed Stanhouse “Stan the Man Unusual”. Flanny’s gone too, alas.

  4. Ron Luciano was a charismatic American League umpire in the 1970’s. A sports magazine of the era pubished Luciano’s Top 5 most difficult managers. As I remember his description:
    5.Earl Weaver
    4.Earl Weaver
    3.Earl Weaver
    2.Earl Weaver- “The problem with Earl is that he holds a grudge. Other managers, if they disagree with a call, may holler and shout, but you can still go out for a beer with them after the game. Not Earl. He never forgets. Heck, he even holds your minor league record against you. Once, a couple of years ago, I made a controversial call at the plate. Earl charged out of the dugout, screaming that that was the same call I’d blown at Elmira in ’66. That sort of thing can get to you.”
    1.Frank Robinson- “He’s Earl’s protege.”

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