Don Zimmer dead: Legendary baseball player, coach and manager dies aged 83

Zimmer, also known as Popeye or the Gerbil, is remembered

Don Zimmer, famous baseball player, manager and coach, died yesterday, Wednesday 4 June, aged 83.

The news was confirmed by the Tampa Bay Rays, a team he had been serving as senior adviser. He had been in rehabilitation since having surgery on 16 April to repair a leaking heart valve.

He has also been having kidney dialysis since May 2012, but continued to work for the Rays when his health allowed.

Zimmer boasts one of the longest careers in baseball history, having started as a minor league infielder in 1949. He never retired, despite his ailing health. Zimmer poses for a photocall for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2010

One of the best-loved figures in baseball, Zimmer earned himself the nicknames "Popeye" for his muscly arms, as well as the less complimentary "Gerbil" due to his puffy cheeks and “unforgettable jowls”, as the New York Times described today.

He played with the Dodgers and was an original member of the New York Mets; he managed the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox and was bench coach of the Yankees for four World Series champions. His career nearly ended in 1953 when he was injured during at St Paul’s game. He was left in a coma and didn’t regain consciousness for 13 days, after doctors put metal screws in his head.

 

However, his career went onto span six decades. After he stopped playing in 1965, he turned to baseball coaching and management, working with teams including the Montreal Expos and San Diego Padres, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays.

He even got married on the field, wedding his high-school sweetheart Carol Jean Bauerle on home plate ahead of an Elmira night game in 1951. They had two children, son Tom and a daughter, Donna. Zimmer plays for Brooklyn Dodgers in 1955

“Today we all lost a national treasure and a wonderful man,” Rays owner Stuart Sternberg said in a statement. “Don dedicated his life to the game he loved, and his impact will be felt for generations to come. His contributions to this organisation are immeasurable. I am proud that he wore a Rays uniform for the past 11 years. We will miss him dearly.”

A moment’s silence was held in memory of Zimmer at Dodger Stadium yesterday, before Los Angeles played the Chicago Red Sox. The Rays will also stage a pre-game ceremony on Saturday 7 June, prior to their forthcoming game.

 “All I’ve ever been is a simple baseball man, but it’s never ceased to amaze me how so many far more accomplished people I’ve met in this life wanted to be one, too,” he wrote in his memoir, The Zen of Zim, written with Bill Madden. “What a game, this baseball!”

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

HR Manager - Edgware, London - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - Edgware, Lon...

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Talent Manager / HR Manager - central London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week