BALTIMORE Earl Weaver penned his own epitaph.
"On my tombstone just write, 'The sorest loser that ever lived,' " he once said.
Weaver the Orioles' irascible, chain-smoking, umpire-baiting manager who led the team to four American League pennants and the 1970 world championship in his 17 years in Baltimore died Friday night while on a baseball-themed cruise in the Caribbean Sea.
The Hall of Famer was 82.
Weaver piloted the Orioles from 1968 to 1982, and in 1985 and 1986, earning nicknames such as "the little genius" and "the Earl of Baltimore."
Weaver's teams won 1,480 games and lost 1,060, and his lifetime winning percentage (.583) ranks ninth all-time and fifth among managers in the modern era who managed 10 years or more. Five times, Baltimore won at least 100 games for Weaver, who stood 5-foot-7 but was a legend to his players.
"Having Earl gives us a four-game lead on everybody," pitcher Sammy Stewart once said.
Weaver's death came on the eve of the team's annual FanFest at the Baltimore Convention Center.
"It's a sad time, but at the same time, Earl would say, I hope it won't mess up FanFest," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said at the event, where Weaver's No. 4 hung from behind the stage. "Every time I look at an Oriole now, it's going to be missing a feather without Earl."
The Orioles failed to post a winning record under Weaver only once (1986). His career was defined by an affinity for the three-run home run and a long-running, public feud with Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer that both men jokingly played to whenever together.
"There weren't any gray areas with Earl," Palmer said. "We had a love-hate relationship. Earl was going to tell you what he expected, and there wasn't a lot of room for error with him. Earl was about winning, and that was what he did."
Weaver was known by his closest friends to be both sensitive and caring, though he seldom allowed the public to see his softer side.