Baseball Magazine

Farewell to a Legend

By Precious Sanders @pdsanders99

Don Zimmer passed away last night.

It’s difficult to be a baseball fan and never have heard of the man, even if I never did pay very close attention to him.  He’s like the foul pole on the baseball diamond: most of the time, nobody pays attention to it, but everyone knows it’s there, and it stands out and makes its presence known in its own way.  I will forever remember him as the man who sat next to Joe Torre in the Yankees dugout.

Farewell to a legend

Don Zimmer and Joe Torre (New York Times)

Reading the stories about Zimmer this morning, however, has my interest particularly piqued.  He married his wife on a baseball diamond in between the two games of a double header.  He played for the Brooklyn Dodgers World Series championship team and accumulated twelve years in the Majors, primarily as an infielder.  He spent thirteen years as a manager and was named the NL’s manager of the year in 1989, when he led the Chicago Cubs to a division championship.

Zimmer lived and breathed baseball.  Every year, he wore a new jersey number, changing it to reflect the number of years he spent in baseball.  This year, he wore number 66.

As a player, Don Zimmer hit .235 with 91 home runs and 352 RBIs in 1,095 games.  Not stellar numbers, perhaps, but his biggest impact on the game came as a coach and an advisor.  Zimmer’s passion for the game knew no boundaries, and even at the age of 83, he still served as a senior advisor for the Tampa Bay Rays.

It feels strange, now, to be writing this, as if I had always followed the man, because I didn’t.  I guess for me, and for a lot of people, Zimmer was a given when it came to baseball.  For as long as I’ve known about baseball, I’ve heard the name Don Zimmer, and I now find myself struck with the realization that he, too, was merely mortal.

Farewell and rest in peace.


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