Saturday, June 30, 2012
All Hail the Earl of Baltimore!
"Don Schaefer, I know you're the mayor," he said. "But I understand that just the other day the Earl of Baltimore returned to the city."
His quip got the biggest applause of the day, as well it should. The Great Communicator knew how to connect, and with this audience, it was through their own hero, the scrappy skipper retaking the helm of their beloved O's.
The big mystery, of course, is how the Earl of Baltimore will be depicted in bronze.We all have our mental images of him, usually growling at someone in blue.
Because the granite pedestal has room for only one statue, we have to believe there will be no tormented umpire to complete the tableau. So it is somewhat a mystery how the sculptor will capture the Earl in a likeness we can relate to.
He grew some bumper crops out there. Rumor has it he got special fertilizer from the elephants when the circus was in town.
True, our Earl of Baltimore is not exactly your Downton Abbey-esque aristocrat. At 5'7", he didn't tower over his charges or wither them with a haughty air and lofty speeches.
In fact, he was probably a reality TV personality even before there was reality TV. We can only imagine what kind of "Hard Knocks" show he could have starred in.
But after 4:00 pm today, he will forever be 8 feet tall in the eyes of Baltimore and Oriole fans of the past, present and future. Look forward to sharing it with you here.
My dad had an apt description for days like this. He'd say it's "hotter than the hinges of h*ll." While it certainly feels like that now, it's no deterrent to the thousands here to pay homage to the Earl of Baltimore.
Long before the ceremonies began, fans crowded the picnic grounds, jockeying for good seats.
Of course, there were great anecdotes shared about Earl's relentless drive to win everything he competed in (even shuffleboard on cruises) and attention to detail and execution. Naturally, his scuffles with the Boys in Blue came up more than once.
But this is Earl Weaver, scholar of baseball. One of the best minds there ever was for appreciating the fundamentals of the game and exhorting his players to achieve them. And it fits perfectly in the setting.
Despite the heat, the stands are again full. Yes, folks from Cleveland are here to support the Indians and they appreciate being a part of the tribute to Earl as well. But the outpouring of enthusiasm for the Orioles is indeed heartwarming.
The 20th Anniversary Year at Oriole Park has been magical so far. Hard to believe it is almost half over. But we know the best is yet to come. Stay tuned.
Or better yet, join us for some of that Oriole Magic.