Famed Orioles baseball manager Earl Weaver died early Saturday aboard a cruise ship after spending nearly a week sailing the Caribbean surrounded by fans, friends and family, Michelle Deal-Zimmerman reports for The Baltimore Sun.
The 82-year-old Weaver was taking part in The Original Baltimore Baseball Cruise aboard the Celebrity Silhouette cruise ship, which departed from Fort Lauderdale last Sunday with an itinerary that included stops in Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Jamaica and Haiti.
Cruisecritic.com, a website specializing in cruises and a gathering place for cruise-goers, reported that Weaver collapsed in his cabin and never regained consciousness.
Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor of cruisecritic.com, said Weaver was known to enjoy cruising, especially when he could be joined by Orioles fans.
“He really loved those cruises,” said Spencer Brown, whose father, Bob Brown, worked with Weaver doing public relations for the Orioles for decades.
She said her father was “devastated” by Weaver’s death.
Spencer Brown said theme cruises present a unique opportunity for fans to get up close to Orioles personnel.
“They’re marvelous. It’s the coolest opportunity, if you really love the Orioles, to cruise with players and staff,” she said. “You really come to feel like you’re part of something.”
Weaver’s death came near the end of the theme cruise and after a week of special events that included autograph sessions, casino night, a treasure hunt and a cocktail party. Other Orioles notables featured on the cruise included former pitchers Scott McGregor and Bill Swaggerty and sportscaster Fred Manfra.
The Celebrity Silhouette is a relatively new cruise ship having just been introduced into service in 2011. The 122,400-ton megaship carries 2,886 passengers at full capacity.
Spencer Brown said many of the newer ships have sophisticated medical centers on board. Some have what are essentially small hospitals — even morgues — that provide 24-hour care.
Spencer Brown, who grew up in the Baltimore area, said she was saddened by Weaver’s death and her thoughts were with his wife Marianna.
“[At least] he was having fun and he was doing something he enjoyed,” she said.
Weaver, 82, who spent his 17-year managing career with the Orioles, died of an apparent heart attack, the team said on its website. The Baltimore Sun quoted a club spokeswoman as saying he had died during an Orioles-themed cruise.
Known as “the Earl of Baltimore,” the fiery Weaver led the Orioles to six division titles, four American League pennants and one World Series title. He had two stints as the club’s skipper, from 1968 to 1982 and from 1985 to 1986.
Baltimore finished in first or second place in the American League East in all but three seasons during his initial 15-year run. Weaver posted a 0.583 career winning percentage with 1,480 wins and 1,060 losses, ranking him seventh all-time among managers, and first for post-1960 skippers.
Led by third baseman Brooks Robinson, the Orioles beat the Cincinnati Reds four games to one in the 1970 World Series.
“Earl Weaver was a brilliant baseball man, a true tactician in the dugout and one of the key figures in the rich history of the Baltimore Orioles,” Baseball Commissioner Allan “Bud” Selig said in a statement.
Weaver, a St. Louis native, was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals as a second baseman out of high school but never played in the major leagues.
He started his coaching career in the Orioles’ farm system in 1957 and worked his way up to managing the Triple-A Rochester, New York, Red Wings in 1966.
In 1968, he was promoted to Orioles first-base coach. Weaver replaced Hank Bauer as manager in July that year.
Weaver was ejected from dozens of games and was known for baiting umpires, especially by kicking dirt on them.
“The job of arguing with the umpire belongs to the manager, because it won’t hurt the team if he gets thrown out of the game,” Weaver once said.
He also pioneered the use of radar guns to track the speed of pitches, using them in 1975 spring training. Weaver was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1996.
He was honored last year with a statue outside Camden Yards, the Orioles’ ball park.
For the original report go to http://news.yahoo.com/baseball-hall-fame-orioles-manager-earl-weaver-dies-164613504–mlb.html and http://www.baltimoresun.com/travel/bs-md-weaver-cruise-20130119,0,7051388.story