Player, Manager, Coach Don Zimmer Dies At 83
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[June 05, 2014]
(Reuters) - Don Zimmer, a colorful
baseball lifer whose career touched such storied franchises as the
Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox,
died in Florida on Wednesday at age 83, the Tampa Bay Rays said.
The former Major League Baseball player, manager, coach and most
recently senior adviser to the Rays, enjoyed a career that spanned
more than 60 years.
Zimmer, a stocky man with muscular forearms and a jowly face that
brought him the nickname "Popeye", had battled health issues in
recent years and in April underwent heart surgery.
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig in a statement called Zimmer "a memorable
contributor to baseball... Don was the kind of person you could only
find in the National Pastime.
"On behalf of Major League Baseball and the many clubs that 'Popeye'
served in a distinguished baseball life, I extend my deepest
condolences to Don's family, friends and his many admirers
throughout our game."
Zimmer broke into the major leagues in 1954 as a infielder with the
Dodgers, he was an original member of the New York Mets, he managed
the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox and was bench coach of the
Yankees for four World Series champions.
"I hired him as a coach, and he became like a family member to me,"
said MLB executive vice president Joe Torre, who was manager of
those Yankees champions over a stretch from 1996 to 2000.
"He has certainly been a terrific credit to the game. The game was
Zimmer played 12 seasons in the majors, also appearing for the Cubs,
Reds, Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Senators.
He managed 13 seasons, compiling a career record of 885-858 in
stints with the San Diego Padres, Red Sox, Rangers and Cubs.
Zimmer was National League manager of the year in 1989 when he led
the Cubs to a surprising division title, and managed the 1978 Boston
Red Sox, who lost the division title in a memorable playoff game at
Fenway Park to the Yankees.
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"Don spent a lifetime doing what he loved. He was an original - a
passionate, old-school, one-of-a-kind baseball man...," Yankees
owner Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement.
His competitive fire burned even as he aged.
During the 2003 American League Championship Series as a coach for
the Yankees, Zimmer, 72, charged Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez
during a fracas on the field, swinging and missing with a punch
before being thrown to the ground by the Boston ace.
Zimmer later apologized, saying he was "embarrassed about what
Zimmer leaves behind his wife, Soot, whom he married at home plate
before a minor league game in Elmira, New York, in 1951, a son and
daughter and four grandchildren.
(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by John O'Brien)
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