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Biography

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Overview (5)

Date of Birth 17 January 1931Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Date of Death 4 June 2014Dunedin, Florida, USA  (heart failure as a complication from cardiac surgery)
Birth NameDonald William Zimmer
Nicknames Zim
Popeye
Height 5' 9" (1.75 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Don Zimmer, who was called "The Gerbil" by his nemesis, Red Sox pitcher Bill Lee, was a journeyman infielder for 12 years and an original member of the New York Mets, a team which lost a still-record 120 games in its inaugural season of 1962. Zim came up with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1954, and moved with the team to Los Angeles. He played with the Dodgers through the 1959, World's Championship season, after which he was traded to the Chicago Cubs. (He returned to the Dodgers again for their 1963 World's Championship season. After writing himself into baseball history books as part of the '62 Mets, Zim was traded during the season to the defending National League Champion Cincinnati Reds, which sent him back to the Dodgers, which in turn, shipped him off to the Washington Senators, where he ended up his career from 1963-65.

The career .235 hitter was a member of 1955 and 1959 World's Champion Brooklyn Dodgers teams, batting a lusty .200 in five World Series games. The career utility player became a coach after his playing days were over, eventually working his way up the greasy pole of major league managerial politics (dominated by an old boy network that generally excluded African Americans and other minorities) to become manager of the National League San Diego Padres for two season (1972 and '73).

As third base coach of the 1975 American League champion Boston Red Sox, he had a hand in one of the greatest games every played, Game Six of the 1975 World Series (1975). He either did or didn't give second baseman Denny Doyle the greenlight to attempt to score from third on a weakly hit pop-up by Fred Lynn to short left-field. Doyle, who said that Zim shouted "Go!" (Zimemr said he had shouted "No!" was easily thrown out at the plate by George Foster, left-fielder of the Big Red Machine that was the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds eventually won the World Series in seven games.

Don Zimmer gained a reputation as one of the best third base coaches ever, a field position that, arguably, is second in importance only to that of the manager himself. In an example of the Peter Principle at work ("In a hierarchically structured administration, people tend to be promoted up to their "level of incompetence"), after Red Sox manager Darrell Johnson was fired during the 1976 season, Zim was raised to the cat-bird seat. From 1976 through the time he was fired in 1980, th great Red Sox teams he managed consistently failed to reach the post-season, despite featuring such Hall of Famers as Carl Yastrzemski, Carlton Fisk, Ferguson Jenkins and Dennis Eckersley, and such Hall of Fame-caliber players as Jim Rice, Dwight Evans, Fred Lynn and 'George Boomer Scott'.

After being unceremoniously canned in the last week of the 1980 season, Zim immediately caught on as manager of the Texas Rangers, but he was fired half-way through the 1983 season with the Rangers in sixth place. He managed three full seasons with the Chicago Cubs (1988-1990), actually winning the National League East in 1989, but he was given the sack during the 1991 season after only 37 games. He never managed again, despite winning National League Manager of the Year honors for bringing in the Cubs first in 1989.

Proudly boasting that he had never cashed a paycheck in his life that wasn't from professional baseball, Zim went back to what he did best: coaching. He served as bench coach to New York Yankees' manager Joe Torre during the Yankees last dynasty (1996-2003). He retired from coaching after the 2003 season, after making a public spectacle of himself during the 2003 American League Championship Series by attacking Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez during a dust-up between the two teams.

As of the 2007 season, Don Zimmer is still in uniform (#59), serving as Senior Baseball Adviser for the Tampa Devil Rays. (He is the last Brooklyn Dodger to remain in a professional capacity in baseball) Zim remains one of the favorite bug-a-boos of the Red Sox Nation: Not quite in the class of Harry Frazee or Haywood Sullivan and Buddy La Roux, but reviled none-the-less for failing to beat the Yankees for the American League East pennant in the years 1977 and '78, despite having such a superb team. Perhaps the characterization is unfair, and certainly Hall of Fame manager 'Joe McCarthy' is not similarly reviled for failing to win a pennant with the great post-war Red Sox teams (instead, he is vilified for starting Denny Galehouse instead of Mel Parnell in the 1948, pennant-deciding playoff game with the Cleveland Indians; the Red Sox lost), but memories in the Nation run deep.

The fact is, at the end of July 1978, his Red Sox team had a 10-game lead in the A.L. East (and a 14-game lead over the hated New York Yankees) and blew it, one of the most spectacular collapses in baseball history, the memory of which continues to plague Red Sox fans. Though managed the Red Sox back to a tie with the Yankees (the Red Sox lost in a one-game playoff), The Red Sox Nation never has, and never will, forgive him.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

Spouse (1)

Jean Soot (16 August 1951 - 4 June 2014) (his death) (2 children)

Trivia (5)

Third Baseman/Second Baseman/Shortstop for Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers (1954-1959 and 1963), Chicago Cubs (1960-1961), New York Mets (1962), Cincinnati Reds (1962) and Washington Senators (1963-1965).
Member of 1955 World Series Champion Brooklyn Dodgers team. Member of 1956 National League Champion Brooklyn Dodgers team. Member of 1959 and 1963 World Series Champion Los Angeles Dodgers teams.
Made major league debut on 2 July 1954.
Manager of the National League's San Diego Padres (1972[end]-1973) and Chicago Cubs (1988-1991[start]); and the American League's Bloston Red Sox (1976[end]-1980[start]), Texas Rangers (1981-1982[start]), and New York Yankees (1999[start]).
Inducted into the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2010.

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