With the passing of baseball legend, Don Zimmer, we’ve been reflecting on his 60+ years in baseball. As we look back, we were stunned by hoe many great moments he was a part of, witnessed or was the catalyst for. Here, in no aprticular order are out five favorite moments from a life well lived.
5. Don Zimmer gets the nickname, ‘Popeye’
File photo of an actor posing as the cartoon character ‘Popeye’. (Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images)
Those closest to Zimmer were known to call him “Popeye”. The nickname came in 1955 when Zimmer was playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers. After hitting home runs in consecutive at-bats one game, teammate Roy Campanella noted that his forearms were huge. He thought they looked as big as Popeye’s and the nickname was born. A term of endearment, the name stuck but only with those closest to him.
4. Named NL Manager of the Year in 1989
CHICAGO – JULY 1990: (L-R) Managers Jim Leyland of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Don Zimmer of the Chicago Cubs, Tony LaRussa of the Oakland Athletics and Roger Craig of the San Francisco Giants look on during batting practice prior to the1990 All-Star Game at Wrigley Field circa July 1990 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Steve Goldstein/Getty Images)
Don Zimmer’s finest moment as a manager was when he helped turn around a lousy 77-85 Cubs team to a 93-69 record the next year. His reward for guiding Chicago to a playoff spot was NL Manager of the Year honors.
3. Zimmer was the bridge between baseball’s past, present and it’s future
Senior advisor Don Zimmer of the Tampa Bay Rays talks with infielder Evan Longoria during batting practice just before the start of the game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field on June 24, 2013 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
He met Babe Ruth, played with Jackie Robinson, coached Derek Jeter and Evan Longoria. Let that sink in for a minute…
2. Named to the ’61 All-Star team
On the field, Don Zimmer was used mostly as a utility guy, but his shining moment as an individual player came in being named to the 1961 All-Star team. That year Zimmer hit .252 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 128 games for the Cubs.
1. Don Zimmer married his high school sweetheart in the middle of a double-header.
Zim married his high school sweetheart, Jean, on August 16th, 1951. He was in Single-A ball playing for Elmira when the two love birds made it official. The short ceremony took place a home plate in between games of a doubleheader.
For over 60 years, Don Zimmer WAS baseball and we’ll definitely miss seeing him around the Trop.