45 years ago today, Earl Weaver made history.
For the first time in his Major League career, the Hall of Fame Orioles manager was ejected from both games of a doubleheader.
And since his ejection from the second game of the came during the pregame presentation of the lineups, it marked the earliest possible ejection a manager could earn.
Here’s a look back at how it all unfolded:
It was Friday night, August 15, 1975 and the Texas Rangers were visiting Memorial Stadium. The Rangers entered the night in third place in the American League West – 13.5 games behind the division leading Oakland Athletics – and sported a record of 58-60.
The Orioles, meanwhile, were in second place – 5.5 games behind the Red Sox – with a record of 64-52.
Entering the doubleheader, the Orioles had swept their four previous twin bills and they were looking to do so again and cut into a Red Sox lead that loomed larger with each passing day.
But that streak would come to an end as the Rangers took game one by a 10-6 score before the Birds bounced back to win the nightcap by a 13-1 count.
The fun for Earl Weaver began in the top of the fourth inning of the first game…and it involved an umpire that Weaver had a long-running feud with: Ron Luciano.
With one out and Texas runners on first and third, the Rangers’ Jim Spencer hit a ground ball to Orioles first baseman Tony Muser. Muser fielded the grounder and appeared to step on first before firing to shortstop Mark Belanger, who tagged the runner in what would have been an inning-ending double play.
But not so fast.
Luciano instead ruled that Muser never touched the first base bag, allowing the runner on third to score on the play and keeping the inning alive.
This, naturally, brought Weaver from the dugout.
According the Kent Baker’s account in the Baltimore Sun the next morning, “TV replays showed that Luciano had first raised his right arm, the beginning of the out signal, but also seemed to support the umpire’s ruling.”
Baker continued: “Weaver viewed it differently as he kept watching reruns of the play on the television in his office between games.”
The quotes in The Sun attributed to Weaver showed very clearly just how bad the relationship between the O’s manager and Luciano had gotten:
“He’s no good,” said Weaver. “I won’t want him umpiring any more. He told me he hates me so I’ve got to feel he’s screwing the hell out of us. He’s messing with the integrity of the game when that happens. He’ll end up driving a garbage truck if he keeps that up.”
Those are strong words…and they are hard to imagine coming from a manager in this day and age when every controversial sound bite is replayed so often that managers have become conditioned to favor bland commentary and avoid bold statements at all costs.
The Birds going on to drop the first game could not have helped Weaver’s mood and according to Baker’s account in The Sun, Weaver’s mood had not improved by the time he went to home plate to present the Game 2 lineup card to Luciano, who would be the home plate umpire for the nightcap.
According to Baker, “The argument continued unabated and after Luciano gave him another heave-ho, catcher Elrod Hendricks joined it briefly. Weaver finally retired for the night, having officially managed less than 4 innings of a scheduled 18.”
Obviously Weaver’s services were not needed in that second game, as the O’s collected 18 hits for Mike Cuellar to win the game that Weaver never saw by a score of 13-1.
Eventually, Weaver would get his way and Luciano was no longer assigned to work Orioles games.
In total, Luciano ejected Earl eight times in eight seasons when the two did share a ball field.
After Luciano’s umpiring days were over, he took a job with NBC in the broadcast booth. Weaver’s reaction to Luciano’s new gig was about what you’d expect: “I hope he takes this job more seriously than he took his last one.”