Don Zimmer, a baseball lifer who spent more than 60 years as a Major League player, coach and manager, died Wednesday at the age of 83.
Zimmer’s most recent role had been as a senior advisor to the Tampa Bay Rays, and the Rays broadcast crew announced his passing during the fifth inning of Tampa Bay’s game against the Florida Marlins at Tropicana Field.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. He Had One of the Longest Baseball Careers in History
Zimmer broke into the big leagues as a light-hitting shortstop for the Brookylyn Dodgers in the 1950s. He was still a fixture in the game more than 60 years later as a special adviser to the Tampa Bay Rays, having been a fixture in big league dugouts in between.
The video above has a touching montage of Zimmer photos through the years.
2. The Rays Were Playing in His Honor
Zimmer had been sick for several weeks, and Rays third base coach Tom Foley had been wearing Zimmer’s Number 66 jersey as a tribute.
Zimmer, who lived in the Tampa Bay area for his entire life after retiring as a player, was still on the Rays staff this year and was revered by players and coaches alike.
Each year, Zimmer upped his uniform number by one digit to represent the number of years he’d been in professional baseball, bringing him to 66 for the 2014 season.
3. He Was Joe Torre’s Right-Hand Man
Young baseball fans remember Zimmer most as Joe Torre’s bench coach during the Yankees’ championship runs in the late 1990s.
Zimmer’s Yankees tenure began when Torre took over as manager in 1996 and included being famously thrown to the ground by Pedro Martinez in a brawl during the 2003 ALCS.
Zim’s tussle with the Red Sox ace took place in front of the same dugout Zimmer called home as the Sox skipper from 1976-80.
4. He Managed the Padres, Red Sox, Rangers & Cubs
Zimmer managed the Padres, Red Sox, Rangers and Cubs. His tenure in Boston included managing the Sox to one of their most successful yet ultimately disappointing seasons in 1978, when Bucky Dent’s homer over the Green Monster sent the Yankees to the A.L. East title in a one-game playoff at Fenway Park.
5. He Signed His First Pro Contract in 1949
Zimmer signed with the Dodgers in 1949, just two years after fellow Brooklyn infielder Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. His 12-year Major League career started when the Dodgers called him up in 1954 and didn’t end until 1965, his last season with the Washington Senators.
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