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Former ump Palermo treasures run-ins with Weaver

KANSAS CITY -- Earl Weaver, the Orioles' Hall of Fame manager who died on Saturday, was notorious for his run-ins with umpires.

"He was tough with umpires, but he was a very good manager," one of his umpire adversaries, Steve Palermo, said. "A little pun intended -- you had to give the devil his due. He was a very good manager. But you were always on red alert with him because you never knew what he was going to do next. He was very unconventional."

Palermo, now a supervisor of Major League umpires, remembered a late-season game between the Orioles and Yankees in a pennant race.

"He was in rare form and we threw him out in about the seventh inning. He threw something out of the dugout, came out and was kicking dirt and he got thrown out," Palermo recalled.

"He left for an inning and I think the Yankees hit a two-run homer to go ahead in the eighth inning and Weaver comes flying out of the dugout again. And he's already been thrown out. ... I told him to get out of here. And he kicked dirt all the way from third base to second base. And he was standing there on second base."

Weaver perched on the bag, ignoring third-base umpire Richie Garcia's orders to leave. Palermo came from behind home plate and went to second base. Weaver wouldn't budge.

"I said to Richie, 'Punch the clock,'" Palermo said. "Richie had a stopwatch in his pocket. And I said, 'He's got one minute to get out of here or we're going to forfeit this game.' And Weaver said, 'Naw, I'm staying.'"

With the stopwatch running, the umpires went back to their positions, leaving Weaver fuming on second base.

"He stood there for about 15 seconds and said, 'You know, you're crazy enough just to forfeit this game,'" Palermo said. "And he came running over the mound as I bent over to brush off home plate. He comes up from behind, kicks the dirt under my legs onto the plate and then he takes off running to the dugout. He said, 'I know I've only got about 15 seconds left so I'm getting out of here.' So he went up the tunnel and that was the end of it."

Palermo paused.

"I always said we had an offseason so Earl could go home and think up what he was going to do the next year," Palermo said.

Weaver had a warm side, too. Palermo remembered that a classic photo of him and Weaver pointing fingers at each at a Royals-Orioles game was published in People magazine. The next spring, Palermo was told that Weaver had something for him. It turned out to be an oil painting of that finger-pointing incident.

The painting, apparently given to Weaver by a fan, went up in Palermo's room.

"So every morning when I wake up, I see it," Palermo said. "It was hilarious. It was a real fond remembrance of how it was with us."

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for