So sad. Don Zimmer, one of the most recognizable faces in baseball — a man who had been involved in Major League Baseball for 60 years — passed away in Dunedin, Fla. on June 4. He was 83 years old.
From winning a World Series with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1955 to being a bench coach for the New York Yankees in the late ’90s and early 2000s to rounding out his career as a senior adviser for the Tampa Bay Rays, Don Zimmer was more devoted to the game of baseball than anyone until the day he died. Sadly, the lovable legend passed away at the age of 83 in Dunedin, Fla.
Don Zimmer: MLB Legend Dies At 83
Don’s death was confirmed by the Tampa Bay Rays on June 4, according to the New York Times. The MLB lifer had surgery to repair a leaky valve in his heart in April, and had been having kidney dialysis since May 2012 after falling into a diabetic coma at his home. But even in his weakened state, Don still visited Tropicana Field, the home of the Rays, as much as possible, which speaks to how much he loved baseball — and how he happily devoted his life to it.
Even if Don’s name is less recognizable than the Hank Aarons of the world, the MLB legend’s baseball resume is still extremely impressive. He played infield for the Brooklyn Dodgers’ only World Series championship team, he was an original member of the New York Mets (in total he played 12 seasons of pro baseball), he managed the Red Sox and Chicago Cubs, and most famously, he served as Joe Torre‘s bench coach for the New York Yankees when they won four World Series titles.
And no one ever questioned Don’s fire for the game, especially after he, at 72, charged Boston Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez during a brawl in 2003. Don infamously took a swing at the much-younger Pedro, who then threw him to the ground. Though he later apologized for shaming the game he loved, Don’s passionate bout with Pedro still remains as one of the most indelible images of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.
Don is survived by his wife, Jean, his son, Tom, his daughter, Donna, and four grandchildren. Our thoughts are with them, as well as Don’s friends, during this difficult time.
— Andrew Gruttadaro