MAY PEACE COME TO THIS PLACE AND MAY ALL HAVE A HAPPY AND PROSPEROUS 2012
To say that Arthur has “been around” baseball is an understatement. He wandered through the Orioles organization for some 12 years before he became a free agent and signed with the Seattle Mariners where he pitched for four years. He moved on to Oakland in 1999. There was little success there in the role the manager had in mind for him so he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates and on to the Cleveland Indians before the season even began in 2000. In 2006 he was acquired by the Philadelphia Phillies and released at the end of the year.
Years later, he helped uncover a suspected State Department spy and suspicion fell on him when he eluded capture. He was accused of being a “mole,” followed 24 hours a day for several years, his family harassed, his phone tapped, and his reputation and career nearly ruined. He was removed from his job he loved while “under investigation,” because the politically appointed egos in another agency of the government could not accept that maybe one of “theirs” could have done that which they accused him.
To another band of men, he is remembered as one we spent four years with in College in the early 1960’s in an idyllic place in the hills of northern Vermont. He was a practical joker without peer, which earned him the nickname “Needle” which followed him the rest of his life. He was friend, and a classmate of the best kind. He and I shared a room for four years. He found a way to be at my father’s funeral and was always there when I needed him. I danced at his wedding and I promptly lost track of him after his second posting in the Air Force where he began to learn the craft of counterintelligence. I saw his image on my television when he appeared on “60 Minutes” and told the story of the horrible mistake that nearly ruined his otherwise impeccable career.
The full interview from “60 Minutes” can be found here: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/01/30/60minutes/main538650.shtml
“Flanny” as he was know by one and all was not only a great pitcher he was an intelligent and giving man. Sharing his knowledge of the game he loved was as natural as his New Hampshire twang. He once did an interview for more than 30 minutes on the way to use the rubber slab on the mound to one's advantage. Really. The quiet, reserved, even stoic New Englander most of the time, he could not seem to control his dry humor when he was with his fellow pitchers, Jim Palmer and Steve Stone, among others. Weaver tolerated their nonsense only because they all in their turn won the Cy Young Award and helped make up such a potent pitching staff that few others in the modern era compare.
After a particular galling loss in Anaheim one night when five Angels stole second base, Weaver had seen enough of the slow windups and inattention to the runners of his pitchers. He was so aggravated he ordered all the pitchers to appear at the park at two-thirty the next afternoon. He had them all stand at first base. Rick Dempsey, the regular catcher (the son of circus performers himself) stood in front of home plate and Weaver instructed the pitchers to leave the base and try to steal second but only after the ball left his hand. He positioned himself in front of the pitcher’s mound and threw the ball 12 times. Each pitcher tried and failed to steal second under Earl’s rules. Having believed he had now adequately made his point that the bases stolen the night before were their fault, not Dempsey's, the smiling, bandy rooster-like Weaver, all 5 foot 5 inches of him, bounced over to what he believed was a chastened collection of pitchers now standing behind second base near the kid infielder who had been recruited to apply the tag. He asked in his usual raspy half scream, “So, what have we learned today?” Flanny raised his hand and broke up the assembled group and sent Weaver stalking off the field talking to himself when he replied, “I guess we better work harder on getting a better lead next spring, huh Skip?” Much of what made it funny was the fact that pitchers in the American League had not hit or run the bases since the implementation of the Designated Hitter Rule in 1973.
We are left to wonder of the demons and harsh truths of his life.
This week one of my favorite blogs closed up shop for reasons known to its proprietor. Whatever the reasons, they are good enough for me. We get to do what we want here, which is part of the fun. We get to stop doing it as well, which is the freedom of this form.
I learned more of a cat (known to me as “my man Bob.”) a beloved dog Karl, a new companion “Bear” and the unique lifestyle of a computer consultant who has the freedom to work from home and enjoy life out of doors with a passion one must surely have to live to fully understand.