First, he praised Jim Palmer. Then, he thanked the umpires.
Was the heat getting to Earl Weaver, or what?Instead, when it came time for his speech Sunday, the crusty former Baltimore manager could only look back and smile at a 35-year career that led to his induction to the Hall of Fame.
"It flew by so fast that I didn't even know I was getting old," said Weaver, who turns 66 in two weeks.
Weaver said he wanted to get through the day without letting his emotions take over, and he did so fairly well. A couple of times, as he glanced at the familiar faces in the pro-Orioles crowd of 10,000, he began to get choked up, but he kept catching himself.
"Please don't make me cry," he began in a raspy voice. "I don't want to cry."
The real emotion came near the end of the 21/2-hour ceremonies to enshrine Weaver, Jim Bunning, Bill Foster and Ned Hanlon.
After mentioning many of the people who had helped him become a successful pitcher, Bunning began to speak like the Kentucky politician he is.
Bunning said baseball needed to hire a strong commissioner, adding that the sport must solve its problems "before the Congress of the United States gives up on you and intervenes."
With banned Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott applauding in the audience, the only member of Congress in the Hall asserted that "for over four years, baseball has been rudderless. Get a rudder."
"Get your house in order," he told owners, his voice rising. "Find a way to share revenue without asking players to foot the bill."
He also called on players to act responsibly off the field, and urged the sides to sign a 10-year labor deal and to mutually "pick a commissioner, a real commissioner."
Later, in a press conference, Bunning said he had absolutely no interest in being that commissioner.
"It has no power. It's been gutted," he said.
Weaver had no harsh tones for anyone.
He playfully jibed Palmer, who stood when his former Baltimore manager was introduced, calling him "the man I had more arguments with than my wife, Murianna."
But Weaver, whose "acerbic wit" was noted on his plaque, made sure, however, to include his fellow Hall member on the list of the game's greatest pitchers.
"I don't want to forget Jim Palmer or he'll write another bad book about me," he said.
Weaver also had kind words for the umpires who ejected him so often, drawing a laugh from the audience.
"They made a million calls when I was there and, except for the 91 or 92 times I disagreed, they got them right," he said.
Weaver won six AL East titles, four pennants and the 1970 World Series. He had four of his former players on the Hall stage with him - Palmer, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson and Reggie Jackson.
Weaver predicted, and few would disagree, that two of his other former players will someday be up there, too - Cal Ripken and Eddie Murray.
Hanlon, a turn-of-the-century manager who also prospered in Baltimore - he even gave the team its original orange and black colors - was remembered by his grandson, Edward, one of 118 Hanlon family members on hand for the occasion. He died in 1937 at age 79, and was credited with bringing squeeze plays, hit-and-runs and the "Baltimore chop" to baseball.
Foster, who died in 1978 at age 74 and was a star pitcher in the Negro Leagues in the 1920s and 1930s, won more games than Hall of Famer Satchel Paige. He was recalled by his son, Bill Sr., who said he wished he'd had the opportunity to say, "Dad, you made it."
Also honored were Minnesota Twins announcer Herb Carneal, who won the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence, and New York Times writer Joe Durso, who won the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for print journalism.
Stan Musial, Warren Spahn and Hal Newhouser were among the 33 Hall members on stage, taking in the 21/2-hour festivities on a sunny afternoon. The crowd was only about half the total that came on an open field about one mile from the Hall last year to see Philadelphia favorites Richie Ashburn and Mike Schmidt be inducted.
Like Schmidt, who used part of his speech to endorse Pete Rose for the Hall - once again, there were a few shouts of "We Want Pete!" from the crowd - Bunning had a point to make about baseball.