Don Zimmer, an Original Met, and a True Original

62tDonZimmerLast night came the news that Don Zimmer had passed away at the age of 83. Zimmer was a true baseball lifer, he was around the game so long and in so many capacities that individual memories of the man vary greatly by geography and age group. Although Don was an original Met, and before that a member of the “Boys of Summer” Dodger teams, those parts of his career do not resonate with me. I wasn’t around for the Brooklyn Dodgers, and Zimmer passed too quickly though the Polo Grounds in 1962 for me to associate him much with that team.

My strongest memories of Zimmer revolve around the Yankees, in particular the Yankee vs. Red Sox rivalry. Don had the misfortune of being the Red Sox manager in 1978, a fantastic Boston team that won 99 games but is only remembered for losing a 14 game lead on the Yankees and the one-game “Bucky Dent” playoff game. Years later, of course, Zimmer ended up seated next to Joe Torre on the Yankees bench as those two franchises continued to fight over the AL East annually. Once, famously, the fighting for Zimmer became literal with Pedro Martinez.

Zimmer vs. Pedro

Of course there was much more to his life than that. Like Ralph Kiner I only observed him from afar, but I got the impression he was mostly enjoying it all. I hope that is true, as fans certainly enjoyed watching him as a player, manager, and coach for over 50 years.

Rest in Peace.

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4 comments

  1. IB says:

    Many an afternoon I’d see Torre and Zimmer having lunch and playing the simulcast ponies at Yonkers Raceway. Couple of old-time handicrappers. Funny, nobody ever bothered them. Racing form and tote board take precedent. RIP

    • Michael Geus says:

      Cool story. I like to go to the track plenty myself, you are right, nothing gets in the way of horse players singular focus.

  2. James Preller says:

    On Zimmer, confirmation that weare most remembered for our lowest moments. Raging out of the dugout, going after the game’s best pitcher. Too bad. He lived an incredible baseball life.

  3. Raff says:

    That Pedro scuffle- Wasn’t that just the epitome of ZIM being ZIM? Still full of piss n vinegar- right out front with his guys. As a player, as a coach – always a part of the team, never apart from the team.

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