Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Stark [Print without images]

Saturday, January 19, 2013
Updated: January 22, 1:32 AM ET
My favorite Earl Weaver story


My favorite story from the annals of the late, great Earl Weaver:

I couldn't even tell you what year this was. Sometime in the late '70s. I just remember covering an Orioles-Red Sox series at Fenway Park. And things weren't going well for the Orioles at the time.

My recollection is that they had lost about five games in a row. But after this particular game, Weaver leaned back in the chair behind the desk in his office and announced:

"I'm not worried."

I found myself in a group of writers, sitting and standing around his office. Finally, someone asked: "Why aren't you worried?"

Earl looked at us and said, deadpan: "I've got a secret weapon."

Now let me assure you. Nothing gets the attention of any media horde faster than the term "secret weapon."

So our response, naturally, was: "A secret weapon? What's that?"

Earl looked at us, held up one finger and said, "I'll be right back." Then he walked out of the room -- and went to take a shower.

So now there we were, not sure what to do. Normally, we would head off into the locker room to talk to players. But two important phrases had just changed everything -- and placed some sort of magical spell on us.

First: "I'll be right back." Second: "secret weapon."

Hey, if a living legend is going to be "right back" -- any second, presumably -- and he's about to reveal his "secret weapon," would you leave?

Correct answer: of course you wouldn't.

So nobody moved … until he finally returned … after 15 minutes.

It felt like an hour.

So back in he marched and began buttoning his shirt, not saying a word. Whereupon we repeated the question that had cemented us in our place for the previous 15 minutes: "So, what's your secret weapon?"

Earl Weaver started laughing uproariously.

"Aw," he said, "there ain't no secret weapon. I just didn't want you guys to leave."

This was Earl Weaver. Relentlessly entertaining. A brilliant manager. And a one-of-a-kind baseball character who left his mark on everyone who knew him.

Somewhere up there, there's a throng of folks in heaven who are laughing their tails off -- at least the ones who weren't umpires.