Former Brooklyn Dodger and baseball great, Don Zimmer dead at 83

Baseball was in his DNA until the very end. Major League Baseball not only lost a legend, but also a beloved personality. On June 4, Cincinnati-born and one-time-Bay Ridge resident Don Zimmer, 83, died at BayCare Alliant Hospital in Florida. Recently, Zimmer had undergone heart-valve surgery. He also suffered from fibrosis on his lungs.

Players, coaches and Brooklynites mourned the loss of Zimmer, who was nicknamed Popeye due to his resemblance to the cartoon character.

During his 11-year playing career, Zimmer was a member of six major league franchises. However, his longest stint as a player was with his first team, the Brooklyn Dodgers, where he played, alongside Jackie Robinson. He played for the franchise for six seasons, including 1955, the only year the Dodgers, nicknamed the Brooklyn Bums, won the World Series. The team moved to Los Angeles in 1958.

Future Major League Hall of Fame inductee, Brooklyn-born Joe Torre was saddened by the news. He worked with Zimmer while managing the Yankees from 1996-2003. “I hired him as a coach, and he became like a family member to me. He has certainly been a terrific credit to the game,” said Torre, who is also an MLB executive vice president. “The game was his life. And his passing is going to create a void in my life and my wife Ali’s. We loved him. The game of baseball lost a special person tonight. He was a good man.”

After Zimmer’s playing career came to a close in 1966, he managed four major league teams and won the National League Manager of the Year award in 1989 with the Chicago Cubs. He also coached 11 teams, but is most remembered for his eight-year tenure as coach of Yankees where he won four World Series rings. He was a part of Major League Baseball in some capacity for over 60 years.

“On behalf of Major League Baseball and the many clubs that `Popeye’ served in a distinguished baseball life, I extend my deepest condolences to Don’s family, friends and his many admirers,” Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement.

Zimmer leaves behind his wife, Soot, two children and four grandchildren. He was serving as an advisor for the Tampa Bay Rays at his death.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.