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Showalter had special bond with Weaver

BALTIMORE -- Manager Buck Showalter has become like a lot of other Baltimore fans -- he really loved Earl Weaver.

Weaver, who died this winter, apparently talked with Showalter often, something that meant a lot to the present-day Orioles manager.

"I think the biggest thing is he had time for me," Showalter said before Friday's home opener against the Twins. "He didn't have to. You could tell how much the Orioles meant to him."

Showalter and some of his players came out to watch with fans when the Orioles revealed the statue of Weaver last summer. Showalter talked that day about how excited he was to talk with Weaver.

To honor Weaver, the Orioles will wear a "4" patch on their uniforms this season. They've also got a white "4" in an orange circle in front of the team's first-base dugout -- the number Weaver wore when a coach with the Orioles (1968) and manager of the team (1968-82, 1985-86).

The team also honored Weaver during its pregame ceremony Friday with a video tribute as well as not having a first pitch, just leaving the ball on the mound in his memory.

Showalter said he was thinking about Weaver throughout the spring and will often have the Hall of Fame manager on his mind. At the club's Spring Training complex at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Fla., there was a "4" in front of the Orioles' dugout.

"I'd come off the mound after making a pitching change in the spring, have my head down thinking and I'd look up, and I'd almost be getting ready to step on the number, and I'd always walk around it," Showalter said. "There's a certain reverence we all had for that. He's watching today."

Jeff Seidel is a contributor to
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