Orioles Manager Earl Weaver Changed Tom Shopay’s Life By Asking Two Questions

Cal Ripken Jr. collected
this card A LOT! I found
this specimen and some
great reading at
the Orioles Card website!

Judge a great leader by words and deeds. Tom Shopay saw the best of both from Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver.

“One thing Weaver said that I remember was…

You have two choices when you step on the field. You can win or lose. Why step on the field if you are going to lose?”

I saw that Shopay had worked twice as a reserve catcher in Baltimore. Sometimes, the smallest statistic can uncover the biggest tale.

“It was his [Weaver’s] idea. I was breaking in a catcher’s mitt during batting practice for weeks. Then, Andy Etchebarren was traded to the Angels and Earl always had three catchers. So he came up to me and asked if I ever caught before. At that point, I knew where he was going.

I said, ‘Hell, Yes!’

The only time I ever put on catcher’s equipment was when two catchers got hurt in college and they asked for a volunteer.

I ended up by catching two full big league games and extended my career two years.”

Shopay grew up in Bristol, Connecticut. See how his hometown honored him. Measure Shopay’s grin to see how much the honor must mean.

Do Umpires Hold Grudges? See For Yourself!

No Valentine from Valentine!

Umpire Bill Valentine seemed to have two lists of catchers he encountered in his career.

Yesterday, he shared comments of those catchers he admired.

Valentine reserved a few words for the oddball receivers he remembered, writing:

“Everyone will tell you Berra ran at the mouth. But the one who ran at the mouth the most was Andy Etchebarren of the Baltimore club. He was a so-so catcher, and a real pain in the ass. He ran at the mouth for no reason, and really made his pitchers have to throw to a tighter strike zone because of his mouth. The out-of-the-strike-zone pitches he wanted when he was catching, we gave to him when he was hitting.

“Cleveland’s Joe Azcue was talkative, but in a great and friendly way. Hitters would sometimes say, ‘Shut up, Joe. I’m trying to hit.’ He loved it when they did that, and he would keep on chatting with me about anything.

“I broke in behind the plate in the American League behind Haywood Sullivan, and he stood up so high I think I had to stand up, just to try and see around him. There was a Spanish catcher, Paul Casanova, who caught for the Washington Senators in the late sixties, who got down so low he was about knee high. That was when the big outside chest protector came in handy.”

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