Former Orioles manager Earl Weaver dies

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Former Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver died early Saturday morning. He was 82 years old.

The team's website said Weaver died of an apparent heart attack while on an Orioles fantasy cruise.

"Earl Weaver stands alone as the greatest manager in the history of the Orioles organization and one of the greatest in the history of baseball," said Orioles managing partner Peter Angelos in a statement Saturday morning. "This is a sad day for everyone who knew him and for all Orioles fans. Earl made his passion for the Orioles known both on and off the field. On behalf of the Orioles, I extend my condolences to his wife, Marianna, and to his family."

Weaver, a brilliant strategist sometimes better known for his fiery temper, guided the Orioles to six AL East titles, four AL pennants and one World Series championship in parts of 17 seasons as skipper. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996.

After taking over during the 1968 season, Weaver guided an Orioles juggernaut to three straight 100-win seasons and a trio of AL pennants in his first three full seasons. The Mets stunned the Orioles in the 1969 World Series, but the 1970 club beat Cincinnati behind Brooks Robinson's stellar play at third base before the Pirates topped the O's in 1971.

The Orioles lost to Oakland in the 1973 and '74 ALCS before finally reaching the World Series again in 1979, but again the Pirates prevailed in a seven- game series.

Weaver retired after the 1982 season and the Orioles again won the World Series the following year under Joe Altobelli. Weaver returned to the dugout early in the 1985 season and retired for good after the 1986 campaign. Baltimore was 73-89 in '86, marking Weaver's lone losing season with the franchise.

"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, the club he led to four American League pennants and the 1970 World Series championship," baseball commissioner Bud Selig in a statement Saturday. "Having known Earl throughout my entire career in the game, I have many fond memories of the Orioles and the Brewers squaring off as American League East rivals. Earl's managerial style proved visionary, as many people in the game adopted his strategy and techniques years later.

"Earl was well known for being one of the game's most colorful characters with a memorable wit, but he was also amongst its most loyal. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I send my deepest condolences to his wife, Marianne, their family and all Orioles fans."

Weaver, whose baseball philosophy consisted of pitching, defense and three-run homer, posted a record of 1,480-1,060, and his .583 winning percentage is the best among those who began their managerial career after 1960.