Kurkjian: Don Zimmer simply loved baseball

From SABR member Tim Kurkjian at ESPN.com on June 5, 2014:

The Rangers were riding a 13-game losing streak when a young beat writer dragged himself into manager Don Zimmer’s office on yet another scorching day in Texas in May 1982.

“What’s wrong with you?” Zimmer said with that famous Zim glare.

“Covering this team isn’t as much fun as I thought it would be,” the writer said.

“Ah, quit complaining,” Zimmer snapped. “Look at you. You’re young, you have your whole life ahead of you. Look at me. I’m old, I’m fat, I’m bald, I’m ugly, I have a plate in my head. And I have this team to manage. I’m the one with the worries.”

And then he flashed that Zim smile, that unmistakable, moonfaced smile that could light up a room, especially one in which baseball was spoken. No one, but no one, loved the game more than Don Zimmer.

He married his beloved wife, Soot, at home plate in Elmira, N.Y. He wore a uniform for 66 years as a player, coach and manager. He won a world championship with the Dodgers in 1955, he managed the Red Sox during their epic collapse in 1978, he managed the Cubs to an unlikely division title in 1989 and, as Joe Torre’s bench coach for many years with the Yankees, he became the game’s grandfather, baseball’s Buddha. In his final job, as a senior adviser for the Rays, he was revered.

Zimmer died Wednesday, as perhaps the mostly widely loved and respected person in the game. For the past few years, Jim Leyland, a former Tigers manager, called him on the phone every day, sometimes two and three times, just to check in, and to pick his brain.

“I love Zim,” Leyland said.

Read the full article here: http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/11035595/don-zimmer-leaves-legacy-devotion-baseball-mlb

Originally published: June 5, 2014. Last Updated: June 5, 2014.