Another one of baseball’s greatest and longest serving names has gone to that great, big bullpen in the sky. This time, player turned coach turned manager Don Zimmer passed away on Wednesday at 83-years-old.
Zimmer’s career in baseball goes all the way back to the 1940s when he got his start in the minor leagues and eventually moved his way up to the big leagues with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He played alongside baseball legend Jackie Robinson and both helped snag the team’s one and only World Series win in 1955. He also saw the team’s move to Los Angeles in 1958 and moved back to New York to play with the newly formed Mets in 1962. He eventually retired as a player but he didn’t stay away from the game for very long and returned to Major League Baseball as a manager. Starting again in 1972, he managed the San Diego Padres and moved on to the Boston Red Sox where he contributed to one of the ball club’s most successful seasons. The MLB named him National League manager of the year after he brought the Chicago Cubs to the National League championship in 1989.
He also served as a coach and manager for the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees where he racked up four titles with manager Joe Torre. However, his most memorable moment with the Yankees came when the man who everyone thought was the sweetest guy in baseball charged the pitcher’s mound at Boston Red Sox Pedro Martinez who grabbed him by his head and threw him to the ground. The short tussle cleared both benches and led to a legendary fight on the field. As you’ll see in the video, Zimmer set himself apart from other sports’ ego by actually expressing remorse and even shedding some tears over his behavior on the field…
His colleagues and fans throughout baseball expressed great memories and admiration for the man they called “Popeye.” Former Cubs coach Billy Connors called Zimmer “probably the best baseball man I knew.” Hank Steinbrenner, son of the late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said that he “loved his passion” and just thought of him as “a great, great guy.” Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle called Zim’s passing “a sad day for the game of baseball.”