Hall of Famer Earl Weaver, former Orioles manager, dies at 82
The famous feud with Palmer dated back to the 1970s, when they would exchange barbs on the mound and in the papers. They clearly grated on each other, but there also was a grudging mutual respect between two dynamic personalities that were integral to the Orioles winning chemistry from the time Weaver was hired as manager in 1968 until his first retirement after the 1982 season.
"Did he make my life difficult ... yes," Palmer said. "Did I make his life difficult sometimes ... of course ... and sometimes you did it for entertainment value."
They occasionally sparred good-naturedly on the banquet circuit after both left the field, but carried on a largely cordial relationship until the feud bubbled up again with an ugly incident at the 2000 Sports Boosters of Maryland Banquet.
Several former Orioles stars were on hand to roast Weaver, but Palmer's allusions to the diminutive former manager's size and drinking habits struck a nerve.
When Weaver finally got his chance to fire back, it was no joke.
He ripped into Palmer, calling him an idiot and an egotist who often had little stomach for pitching with discomfort. It was a nasty scene that ended with Weaver being led away from Palmer by former Orioles first baseman Lee May and Orioles coach Elrod Hendricks.
"It was unfortunate because these two men have such great respect for each other," Hendricks said at the time. "They may say some negative things about each other, but they ultimately say each one is a class guy. When somebody said something negative about Palmer, Earl jumped them. And Palmer would always defend Earl no matter what happened the day before."
It was very unfortunate, but it also was very much Earl, whose quick temper got him ejected from games 98 times during his major league managerial career. He was famous for his protracted and animated disagreements with umpires, many of which ended with a red-faced Weaver hurling away his hat or kicking dirt on the shoes of the offending official.
"Earl was Earl," Palmer said, "but once you were an Oriole, you played because winning was a lot of fun and Earl was all about winning. Did he inherit a good young team, sure, but he gave me the opportunity to win 20 games eight of 10 years. He was so good at handling his roster.
"Cal went 4 for 55 at the start. Rich Dauer went about 1 for 31. Earl stayed with them. Once you established yourself as a player, he stuck with you. I think I would have had much more of a chance if he had been the manager at the end of my career instead of (Joe) Altobelli. Earl would have said, 'I've got to give the guy a chance to fail.'"
Baltimore Sun staff writer Jacques Kelly contributed to this article.
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