Baseball icon Don Zimmer dies at 83
Don Zimmer, a baseball legend and character for decades, has died.
Don Zimmer, the jowly baseball icon beloved for his personality and enduring presence within the game, has died at the age of 83.
Here's more from Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times:
Don Zimmer had been hospitalized since April 16 heart surgery. "He went peacefully,'' son Tom told the @TB_Times— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) June 5, 2014
Zimmer's life in major-league baseball began when he was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1949. He was a highly regarded infield prospect until 1953, when he was struck in the head by a pitch from Jim Kirk. Zimmer almost died and lay unconscious for more than two weeks. He had surgery to install metal "buttons" in his head. Eventually, though, Zimmer regained his health and went on to have a 12-year playing career, including making the All-Star team with the Cubs in 1961.
Here he is in spring training 1955, mid-leap ...
Zimmer went on to notch two hits in the '55 World Series against the Yankees.
After his playing days were over, "Zim" carved out a career as a big-league manager. His first job came with the Padres in 1972 ...
The Padres mourn the loss of a former manager & a great baseball man. Rest in peace, Don Zimmer. pic.twitter.com/uHasNVx9u5— San Diego Padres (@Padres) June 5, 2014
Across parts of 14 seasons, he skippered -- in addition to the Padres -- the Red Sox, Rangers and Cubs. Along the way, he had some lows, such as presiding over the Red Sox's storied collapse in 1978 ...
Here's Don Zimmer with Ted Williams in 1978. (AP photo) pic.twitter.com/ZnMBiTlYIV— WEEI (@WEEI) June 5, 2014
But Zimmer also guided the '89 Cubs to a division title, and for his efforts Zimmer was named NL Manager of the Year ...
Don Zimmer played/coached with 14 big league teams, but he recently said THIS was his biggest thrill. pic.twitter.com/rxM3lAH0k7— Pete Byrne (@PeteByrneWSBT) June 5, 2014
Later came a string of coaching stints, most notably for Joe Torre's Yankees. Zimmer's time with the Yankees was mostly notable for all those rings and all that champagne, but his squaring off against Pedro Martinez will not soon be forgotten ...
As much as his accomplishments on the field and in the dugout, Zimmer is remembered for his pithy sense of humor and his "Popeye" visage. "I'm just a .235 hitter with a metal plate in his head," Zimmer once quipped.
That was true and typical self-effacement on his part, but Don Zimmer was so much more than that.
Our sympathies go out to the Zimmer family.
Today I lost my "Pops" the greatest grandfather anyone could ever ask for. Don Zimmer lived an amazing baseball life pic.twitter.com/7NiAdtMpl5— Beau Zimmer (@Zimm10) June 5, 2014