BALTIMORE - Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver is auctioning off 47 of his treasured keepsakes, including his 1966 World Series ring and jerseys received as gifts from Cal Ripken Jr. and Eddie Murray.
The former Baltimore Orioles skipper will earn tens of thousands of dollars from the sale, but Weaver says he doesn't need the money and isn't keeping any of it.
"I have four children. They have children, and their children have children," said Weaver, who turns 81 in August. "I don't know how to divide whatever memorabilia there is among them."
It's far simpler to split a pile of cash, so Weaver decided to sell the items and distribute the proceeds equally among the family.
"To me, it seems like the logical thing to do. I hate to depart with some of the things I've accumulated, but I think that's the easiest thing for me to do before I pass," Weaver said. "I don't know what would happen then. The auction is the best way for me to take care of everything."
The last thing Weaver needs is to have someone steal the goods before he can put them to good use.
"I read in the paper where the tennis player, Pete Sampras, had his in a storage room and it got robbed (last December) and he lost all of it," Weaver said. "I don't see what good it is in a storage room or in a safe-deposit box.
"I had them all over the walls, really showing the pieces off, but you get the workmen coming in, and they look at it and you don't know who they're going to tell. We've got an alarm system, but somebody could come in there and get it all and then nobody would have anything."
Weaver won 1,480 games, four AL pennants and a World Series over 17 seasons with the Orioles. Along the way, he had five seasons with at least 100 wins, clashed with many an umpire in boisterous fashion and accumulated hundreds of mementos.
After his retirement, Weaver continued to garner valuable, meaningful souvenirs.
Upon being inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1996, he was presented with signed jerseys from Ripken and Murray. The gifts still give him pleasure, but they're difficult to divvy up in a will.
"That's only two pieces and I've got four children," Weaver said.
The same reasoning fueled the decision to sell his World Series ring and the ring he received at his Hall of Fame induction, each of which have already attracted bids in excess of $13,000 in the online process staged by Hunt Auctions, Inc.
The live portion of the auction will take place Saturday at the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in Chicago.
Another notable item up for sale is a plaque containing the baseball Weaver tossed as the ceremonial first pitch before Ripken tied Lou Gehrig's record for playing in 2,130 consecutive games. The plaque features a photo of Ripken signing the ball and handing it to Weaver.
"It hurts to sell it, but it has to be done. I threw out the first pitch, and I'll never forget it as long as I live," Weaver said. "It means more to me than any of the children or grandchildren or anybody else."
The 1966 World Series ring was presented to Weaver while he was manager at Triple-A Rochester, then Baltimore's minor league affiliate. The ring he received for winning the 1970 World Series as manager of the Orioles isn't going anywhere soon.
"That 1966 ring, some were sold for $20,000. It meant a lot to me to have it, but it doesn't mean as much as '70, which we're keeping," Weaver said. "A number of pieces I'm keeping. They'll go to my wife and she'll have to distribute it."
The 47 items for sale are headed elsewhere, and their new owners may get as much enjoyment from them as Weaver did.
"It really is special to see the fans' reaction to these pieces and their reaction to having them," said David Hunt, president of Hunt Auctions. "Yes, the pieces are worth a lot of money. But there is a true enjoyment about the piece. It's sort of moving along to another steward to carry them and preserve the history it represents."