Yesterday baseball lost an icon that so many had adored and worshipped that not only players will be saddened by, but also by fans, front office executives, coaches, and media. Don Zimmer passed away at the age of 83. He was involved in baseball for the last 66 years and was the last Brooklyn Dodger to serve some sort of capacity on the field.
Zimmer had a playing career that lasted from 1954-1965 with five different teams as he played with the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers (1954-59; 1963), Chicago Cubs (1960-61), New York Mets (1962), Cincinnati Reds (1962) and Washington Senators (1963-1965). During his time as a player he was an All-Star in 1961 and won two world championships in 1955 and 1959.
He became a coach in 1971, first with the Montreal Expos and then moved to the San Diego Padres the next season. There he would become a manager for the first time until 1973. He would coach the Boston Red Sox from 1974-76 and then became the manager there in ’76 until 1980 including the infamous 1978 team that had a major collapse and missed out on the playoffs.
The Texas Rangers would hire him in 1981 and would end his tenure the very next season. In 1983 he would have his first stint with the New York Yankees, but it would end there as he went to the Windy City to coach the Cubs in 1984 until 1986. Then in ‘86 he would return to the Bronx for his second stint with the Yankees, but that would be short lived as well when he would travel across the country to the city on the Bay and coach for the Giants in 1987.
He would get the chance to be the skipper for the Cubs in 1988 and was able to get the team to the playoffs in 1989 and won Manager of the Year.
He remained there until 1991. That would be the last time he managed and would become a coach for Red Sox (1992), Colorado Rockies (1993-1995), Yankees for a third time (1996-2003), and Tampa Bay Devil Rays/Rays (2004-2014).
He would win world championship rings with the Yankees in their dynasty years of 1996; 1998-2000.
Many players and coaches like Derek Jeter and Joe Maddon have credited him as a huge help to their success.