Legendary play-by-play man Jon Miller sat down with David Laurila for Q&A on FanGraphs.com this week. In his interview Miller discussed broadcasting advanced statistics, park effects and he shared a few stories about Orioles Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver.
“There are times Bruce Bochy sends a runner, or puts on a hit-and-run, because he thinks it’s the right time. I saw Earl Weaver put on a suicide squeeze bunt, in Milwaukee. It worked. Everybody asked him, ‘Wait, we thought you told us you didn’t even have a sign for a suicide squeeze, because you hated it so much.’ Earl said, ‘I still don’t.’ I asked him, ‘How did you put it on then?’ He said, ‘I whistled at Cal Ripken, Sr., my third base coach. Then I shouted at him, ‘Squeeze! Squeeze! Then I motioned a bunt.’ I said, ‘Paul Molitor was playing third. Didn’t he hear you?’ Earl said, ‘If he did, I’m sure he thought there was no way we were putting it on, or I wouldn’t have been yelling for it.’
Miller also compared Giants skipper Bruce Bochy to the late, great Weaver and discussed how he influenced some of the best managers in the game today.
“Jim Palmer always used to tell a story about Earl. He liked to stick a needle in Earl. In 1974 — my first year of broadcasting games — I was with Oakland. The Orioles made a great run at the end and made it to the postseason. They finished something like 29-6 and played the A’s in the League Championship Series. Palmer’s story is that Earl hated to bunt and give up outs, or attempt steals, but that team didn’t have much power. Brooks Robinson was getting older and I think only hit six or seven home runs all year.
“According to Palmer, the players themselves started putting on steals, hit-and-runs and bunts. Earl said, ‘You think I’m an idiot and don’t see what’s going on, but I can see what’s going on. But we‘re winning, so just make sure we keep winning.’ Earl wanted whatever was going to work. He was willing to adjust.
“Bochy, as well as a lot of managers, ascribe to Earl’s ideas. For a lot of years, Earl also had some big boppers in his lineup. The Orioles were built that way. Bochy has been in two straight ballparks that might be the most difficult to hit home runs in. Everything being equal, he’d rather have a team that could hit a lot of home runs, but I don’t see him sitting back and waiting for them when he knows his team isn’t likely to do that.