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Brett, Royals recall their favorite Weaver tales

KANSAS CITY -- George Brett, who spent his entire career with the Royals, never got to play for his fellow Hall of Famer, manager Earl Weaver, but he imagined it would've been fun and interesting.

"He was the type of guy you wished you would have played for. If he liked you, it was so much fun, but he'd always keep you on your toes," Brett said. "Just like [Jim] Palmer, supposedly to this day, hates him but loves him. That love-hate relationship you have with your managers. But he got the most out of his players, I'll tell you that."

News of Weaver's death came as the Royals FanFest was getting underway Saturday, and naturally stories were told that reflected on the Orioles manager's colorful career. His outbursts punctuated with salty language were legendary.

Brett recalled a day in the late 1970s when he had one of the best games in his career. Former Orioles pitcher Scott McGregor later told Brett about Weaver's postgame eruption in the clubhouse.

"It was like a 14-inning game and I got five hits, and two of them were home runs and I had a triple, double and single -- so I hit for the cycle plus a home run," Brett said. "And the second home run I hit was in the bottom of the 14th inning in Kansas City. After the game, I guess they walked into the locker room and Earl was going crazy. Sammy Stewart, I believe his name was, was his pitcher and I hit a fastball off him right down the middle -- a home run to end the game."

In short, Weaver wanted to know how many times he had told Stewart not to throw Brett a fastball down the middle -- especially when he was behind in the count.

"He got five [bleeping] hits today and all five of them were on [bleeping] fastballs!" was the edited version of Weaver's commentary.

Brett got to know Weaver a bit at the annual Hall of Fame ceremonies at Cooperstown. Even in recent years, the gray-haired Weaver was a lively figure on the dance floor at the Otesaga Hotel; he had his fun.

"He was always appreciative, obviously, of being in the Hall of Fame. He was always nice to everybody. He'll be missed, he really will be."

Former pitcher Dennis Leonard remembered Weaver's teams for their tough pitching and the manager's offensive philosophy of waiting for the three-run homer. And, of course, his run-ins with umpires.

"The Orioles were a pretty dang good team, they were always winning division championships. When I got there, it was always a battle," Leonard said. "And if there were any questionable calls, everybody knows Earl. When he goes out there and does his little tirades, this, that and the other thing -- he might pick up third base and throw it or kick dirt on the plate. It was something different for me, because that was the beginning of my career, to see a manager acting like that. To me, it was kind of funny to watch, especially if we had the upper hand."

Former Royals catcher John Wathan remembered Weaver fondly.

"No. 1, he was tremendously feisty. Entertaining," Wathan said. "I remember some of the stories about how guys on his club would scream at the umpire about a pitch -- while he was down in the tunnel having a cigarette -- and he wouldn't even have seen the pitch, but because they were screaming, just to set him up, he'd come back yelling at the umpire."

Wathan remembered a tale related by Lee May from a day he was sitting with Weaver on the bench with former Orioles infielder Rich Dauer at bat.

"Richie was known for hitting into double plays ... occasionally," Wathan said. "And he hit into a double play with the bases loaded one time and Earl yelled out, 'Doesn't this [expletive] guy ever strike out?'"

Dauer figured in a prank the Orioles would pull on Weaver at Yankee Stadium. Weaver was a short guy and the showers at New York were mounted high on the wall along with the soap and shampoo. During the postgame showers, some of the toiletries inevitably were left on the floor. But Dauer made sure to beat his manager into the shower.

"Richie Dauer, a lot of times, would be the last guy out of the shower and he'd put all the soap and all the shampoo on top of the showers, and Earl couldn't reach it," Brett said.

Naturally the players in the clubhouse would enjoy Weaver's profane tirade floating in from the shower room.

"Good baseball guy, great for the game," Wathan said. "I never played for him, but I'm guessing he was a pretty good game manager. He was one of the characters of the game that everybody missed as soon as he was done managing."