Then about an hour later, another sobering announcement came from the same podium with the news that the great Stan Musial had also died.
Two Hall of Famers in one day. And two HOFers that could not have been more different.
I never saw Stan Musial play, as he retired before I was even born. Apparently, he was as much a gentleman as he was the gifted perennial batting champion with the awkward batting stance. So great was Musial that he is, without question, the greatest jewel to ever represent the city of St. Louis. Stan the Man was St. Louis.
I grew up watching Earl Weaver manage all those great Baltimore Oriole teams of the 1970s and early 1980s. Those teams never beat themselves. The pitching, the defense and the clutch hitting was unrivaled. As a young Yankee fan, I considered Weaver's tactical skills as much a threat to the Yankees' success as any of their players. It is said a manager and their decisions can affect the outcome of between five to ten games a season. But it is the preparation towards a season that is so often underrated. Because of that, Weaver was a major reason why the Orioles flourished for all of those years he managed them.
Earl Weaver will never be confused with being a gentleman the way Stan Musial was. Weaver was brash, unfiltered, profane, cunning, and, as a minor league ballplayer, pretty awful.
But because of his skills as a big league manager and the results they helped produce, Weaver was every bit as deserving of his HOF plaque as Musial.
The greatest living baseball player, Willie Mays, was in attendance at the dinner last evening. I couldn't help but glance over at him with Musial in mind. As with all of the All Time greats, the Say Hey Kid will one day leave us as well. I thought how fortunate I was to be in the same room with Mays and how we should cherish the true icons of our national pastime while they are still on this earth.