Weaver notes changes in All-Star atmosphere

Weaver notes ASG changes

ST. LOUIS -- When Earl Weaver helped the Baltimore Orioles win the World Series in 1970 in just his second full season at the helm, he earned a spot as skipper of the American League All-Star team the following year.

But things were different than they are now. There was no home-field advantage in the World Series on the line in 1971. Back then, Weaver says, players played for something bigger -- pride.

"The game again has taken a little meaning now," Weaver said. "We really tried to win the game in the old days. You tried to get as many players in as you possibly could, but the object then was really to try to win the game.

"When there was a president of the National League and president of the American League, I remember Lee MacPhail, who was president of the American League, coming into the locker room and giving you a pep talk, and saying we had to win this one."

Weaver, who signed autographs for two hours on Saturday morning at the MLB FanFest in St. Louis, had his Orioles No. 4 jersey retired in 1982. He was voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans' Committee in 1996 after managing 2,541 games and winning 1,480 of them -- all with the Orioles.

The career AL leader in ejections with 97 was actually born in St. Louis and went to high school in the area. He played in the Cardinals' Minor League system but never made an appearance as a player in the Major Leagues. Most of his family still lives in town, and he said he was enjoying being able to spend time with them while in town for the 80th MLB All-Star Game and surrounding festivities.

The five-day FanFest and surrounding hoopla wasn't around when Weaver managed in the '70s and '80s.

"It all has really grown," Weaver said. "We were usually in and out. Years back, you'd get in on Monday have a real short workout, the game on Tuesday and bang, most guys flew right out to get that day off."

It's been 23 years since Weaver managed a game, and home-field advantage in the World Series isn't the only thing that has changed. Among Weaver's most disliked changes is the evolution of bullpens and the creation of middle relief, setup men, and closers. Increased workloads for bullpens have minimized the number of innings and complete games by starting pitchers. Gone are the days when complete games were the norm, something that Weaver wishes hadn't changed.

"Pitchers are only going six, seven innings," Weaver said. "I like to see somebody go out there and pitch nine innings. In fact, yesterday there was a no-hit, no-run ballgame. Those are the kinds of ballgames that I like to see.

"You remember in 1971, we had four 20-game winners on the same staff. They were pitching for next year's contract at that time. They wanted to go nine innings. They wanted to get all of the innings that they could because they had to go to the general manager and talk contract next year. Wins, losses, ERA, the number of innings pitched, it all meant something. Right now, if a guy gets in six innings, it seems like he's satisfied. That's the one part of the game that I don't like."

B.J. Rains is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.