This is truly a sad week for Baltimore icons ; 24 hours after the passing of Robert F. Chew, aka “The Wire”‘s Proposition Joe, longtime Orioles skipper Earl Weaver died during an O’s fantasy cruise. Since I’m a genuinely horrible human being, the first thing I thought of after learning of Weaver’s death wasn’t “pitching, defense and a three-run homer”, Earl’s proto-Moneyball distaste for attempting steals or the Hall Of Famer’s legendary meltdowns and subsequent ejections (91 of ’em). No, instead, like so many of the degenerates who read this blog, I recalled “Manager’s Corner”, and thought we’d all take a little bit of solace in learning the background behind this notorious recording. In 2008, the Baltimore Sun’s Rick Maese spoke with former WCMB announcer / co-conspirator Tom Marr.
Marr said it was a prank. Marr and Weaver were pre-recording a segment from Seattle in 1982, when the pair flubbed a take of the Manager’s Corner. They got to laughing and decided to record an entire fake segment and send it back to the station engineer as a joke.
The dialogue was all off-the-cuff and off-the-air. Weaver didn’t have to try very hard to act like an old cuss. The engineer, of course, got a kick out of it, and the listeners heard a different, sanitized version of the segment before Sunday’s ballgame.
The prank tape didn’t die, though. It was kicked around Baltimore on audiocassette for years, and naturally, when YouTube was born, colorful Weaver made the jump into the digital age.
“It’s been all around the world by now,” Marr said. “Just grown like ivy.”
So, yes, it was Earl Weaver, unscripted and uncensored. But it was stolen from a bottom drawer somewhere, not stripped from the airwaves.
“And now, as they say, you know the rest of the story,” Marr says.