Thursday, June 05, 2014


Don Zimmer died today at the age of 83. He will be remembered in these parts as the manager of a Red Sox team that should have won some titles and didn't, which sort of ignores the role of the New York Yankees in the transaction.

Zimmer was a good manager with a flaw, a huge flaw. He had problems related to pitchers. This is absolutely understandable as pitchers almost killed him. Twice. Beanings turned him from baseball's hottest prospect in the early 1950s to a career utility player.

First, a personal note. I first met Zimmer in 1980, when I was George Kimball's successor at the Phoenix. Zimmer and Kimball were sworn enemies due to sociocultural events of the mid 20th century and because Kimball and pitcher Bill Lee were friends. I was their friend, too. Zimmer knew all that. He could not have been more pleasant, gracious and open to me, at a time when the Boston media was roasting him over a print and electronic spit. He had a strong and austere code of life. And he lived it.

Now for the macro. When I think of Don Zimmer, I remember he got his first job as a teenager, and died on the job as an octogenarian, and never, ever, made a nickel outside of baseball. He spent his whole life doing what he loved doing, in the place he was meant to be.

As obits go, I can't top that.


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