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Baseball great, Don Zimmer, nicknamed "Zim" began his career in 1949 at Cambridge in Maryland Eastern Shore League. He then played in Hornell, New York, Elmira, New York, Mobile, Alabama, and finally St. Paul, Minnesota before making it to the Major Leagues with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1954.
In the Major Leagues, Zimmer remained with the Los Angeles Dodgers after their move west in 1958, then playing for the Chicago Cubs, the first New York Mets team in 1962, and the Cincinnati Reds; he returned briefly to the Dodgers in 1963, before finishing his career with the Washington Senators.
Don Zimmer was named Senior Baseball Advisor for the Rays on Jan. 8, 2004. Has been a Major League coach or manager every year since 1971, 35 years total.
After his retirement, Zimmer managed in the minor leagues until 1971 when he joined the Montreal Expos as third base coach. He took a similar job with the San Diego Padres in 1972, but after only 11 games he was called on to replace Preston Gomez as manager.
Don Zimmer is best remembered among Red Sox fans for the team's dramatic collapse during the 1978 season. After leading the American League East by as many as 14 games, the Red Sox stumbled in August. They recovered long enough to build a four-game cushion on the surging New York Yankees. However, in a four-game series in early September, that lead evaporated; the Yankees blew out the Red Sox in a series still known as "the Boston Massacre."
The Red Sox spent the last month of the season trading first place with the Yankees, forcing a one-game playoff on October 2. In that game, the Yankees took the lead permanently on a legendary home run by Bucky Dent over the Fenway Park Green Monster.
During this stretch, Zimmer made several questionable personnel moves. He never got along with left-handed starting pitcher Bill "Spaceman" Lee. As a matter of fact, his outright hatred of Lee (who had nicknamed Zimmer "The Gerbil.") ran so deep, that he gave the starting assignment in the last game of the "Massacre" to rookie Bobby Sprowl, who had only been called up from Class AAA Pawtucket a few days earlier. Reportedly, Carl Yazstremski pleaded with Zimmer to start Lee, who, along with Luis Tiant, had dominated the Yankees during their careers. (Lee, for example, won 12 out of 17 decisions against the Yankees in 10 years with Boston.) Sprowl started and four walks, one hit and one run in the first inning before being pulled and made only three more major-league starts.
Don Zimmer also penciled Fisk, the team's longtime starting catcher, into the lineup 154 times (out of a possible 162). Fisk complained of sore knees for much of this stretch and missed most of the next season with a sore arm. Finally, Zimmer kept third baseman Butch Hobson in the lineup, even though Hobson's elbow miseries (he had floating bone chips which he frequently rearranged before coming to the plate) made it impossible for him to hit for power or average, or throw accurately. Hobson made error after error, until finally Zimmer called on Jack Brohamer to replace him; with Brohamer at third, Boston won its last eight games of the regular season to force a tie with the Yankees. But they lost the playoff game on home runs by Dent and Reggie Jackson
Don Zimmer then managed the Texas Rangers, coached three stints with the Yankees, then coached for the San Francisco Giants. In 1989, Zimmer managed the Chicago Cubs to a division title and was named Manager of the Year. Later, he returning to Boston for one season as a coach (under manager Hobson) in 1992. Overall, Zimmer won 906 Major League games as a manager.
Don Zimmer was on the first coaching staff of the expansion Colorado Rockies in 1993. In 1996, he joined the Yankees as their bench coach for their run of four World Series titles. In 1999, Zimmer filled in for Manager Joe Torre while Torre was recuperating from prostate cancer. Zimmer went 21-15 while guiding the Yankees during Torre's absence. This record however, is credited to Torre's managerial record. Many fans know him for his "brawl" with Pedro Martínez in the 2003 American League Championship Series. He was also once hit by a sharply hit foul ball batted by Yankee second baseman Chuck Knoblauch. The next game, Zimmer wore an army helmet with the word "ZIM" painted on the side and the Yankees logo stenciled on the front. Currently, Zimmer is a senior advisor for the Tampa Bay Rays. His role includes assisting the team during spring training and during home games. Every year, Zimmer increments his uniform number by one to match the number of years he has worked in baseball. During the 2008 season he wears #60, as seen on the Tampa Bay Rays officials site.
Don Zimmer has written 2 books, Zim: A Baseball Life, and The Zen of Zim, that describe his life in baseball, as a player, manager, and coach.
As of the 2008 season, Don Zimmer is the last former Brooklyn Dodger still serving on the field in some capacity.