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WEAVER AMONG 4 TO BECOME NEW HALL OF FAMERS TODAY

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Given a chance to do it all over again, Earl Weaver admits, his career might have been different.

"If I could play now, I'd play. I wouldn't manage," he said."You play baseball. You work at managing. The stress, it's going to get to you."

Still, Weaver stuck it out for 17 seasons in the Baltimore Orioles dugout, never getting fired and enduring only one losing year. It may have been a tense road at times, but the path will pay off Sunday when he joins Jim Bunning and the late Ned Hanlon and Bill Foster in being inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Weaver was known for his confrontational style, with umpires and even his own players, such as fellow Hall of Famer Jim Palmer, who will be in attendance at the ceremonies. Yet the man ejected 91 times for arguing says he might be speechless when it's his turn to talk.

"Up at Cooperstown, I'll be a little on edge," Weaver said recently at the All-Star game. "I've got a lot of family and friends coming."

"When I get up on the podium, it'll be nerve-wracking. I hope I can deliver it without too much emotion."

Weaver said he's thought about his speech every day since March, when he and the other three new members were elected by the Veterans Committee.

That voting came two months after no one - not 300-game winners Phil Niekro or Don Sutton, not slugger Tony Perez - was elected by the Baseball Writers Association of America for the first time since 1971.

Bunning knows what that kind of disappointment feels like. In his last year of eligibility before the BBWAA, the pitcher got 74.3 percent of the required 75 percent, missing by four votes.

"None of the numbers that were on the back of my card have changed in that time," Bunning said the day he was elected.