Earl Weaver, the peppery Baltimore manager who has been known to "see red" on occasion, is thinking red these days. With the baseball strike in full swing, he's turned his attention to a favorite hobby, gardening, and his annual tomato-growing contest with Oriole groundkeeper Pat Santarone.
Since 1969 the two men have battled to produce the juiciest tomatoes in a small plot near the left field foul line. Santarone introduced Weaver to the joys of tomato growing in 1962, when Earl was managing a minor league club in Elmira, N.Y. A friendship blossomed, too. Upon reaching the majors, Weaver found the field at Memorial Stadium not to his liking, and Santarone was soon hired to handle the manicuring.
Weaver claims to have a slight lead in this year's growing contest. His secret: applying a mixture of water with cow manure from the farm of third base coach Cal Ripken.