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Before the second game began he came quietly up to home plate with his lineup. Earl is one of the managers who take this exchange seriously. Earl took the Three Stooges seriously. "Now, Ron," he said calmly, "I want you to take this game seriously. I want you to call balls and strikes the way they're supposed to be called."
I grimaced and shook my head sadly. "Earl," I told him, "I don't know how to tell you this, but it doesn't matter what you think, 'cause you're not going to be here to see it!" Then I gave him the heave-ho.
Naturally he was upset. He refused to hand over his lineup card. "You're not serious about this game, and I'm not going to let you umpire." he said.
"Oh, yeah?" I said. I grabbed the lineup right out of his hand, holding out a carbon copy to the ball boy, who was supposed to take it to the official scorer. "Don't take it," Weaver snapped.
"Hey," I said to Earl, "you can't tell him that 'cause you're not here. You're out of the game." The poor ball boy didn't know what to do, but eventually I got the starting lineups to the scorer. Weaver left the field and managed the Orioles to a victory from the runway leading from the dugout to the clubhouse.
I had a good game behind the plate. Not an argument. In the newspapers the following day Weaver was quoted as saying he was pleased with my performance, and claimed to have motivated me to take my job seriously. He was partly right; I was so glad he wasn't around I had a good time.
Baseball is Earl's religion, and he thought I was being sacrilegious. He saw the ball park as a beautiful chapel, but when I was around there was a problem with bats in the belfry. I think the incident that finally convinced him I was beyond redemption occurred in Chicago my second year in the majors. I was working the plate in the seventh inning of a close game. Tommy John was pitching for the White Sox and Don Buford was the Oriole batter. As John began winding up, the ball squirted out of his hand and dribbled a few feet behind the pitcher's mound. Tommy continued his follow-through because he didn't want to risk straining his arm by stopping abruptly. I couldn't resist the opportunity. I threw up my right arm. "Strike one."
Buford stepped out of the batter's box and glared at me. "What the hell are you doing?"
"It caught the inside corner," I said.
Ed Herrmann, the White Sox catcher, agreed. "It was a good pitch, Don."