Tag Archives: Don Zimmer

Tampa Bay Rays to Retire Don Zimmer’s Number On Opening Day

(St. Petersburg, FL) The Tampa Bay Rays will retire uniform No. 66 in honor of the team’s longtime senior advisor Don Zimmer in a pregame ceremony at Tropicana Field on Monday, April 6 when the Rays open the season against the Baltimore Orioles.

“Don Zimmer enriched the lives of everyone in the Rays family, and he played a significant part in the growth of our organization,” said Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg. “Zim’s presence has been a gift to the game of baseball, and his influence will be felt for years to come.

“It has been a true privilege of my stewardship of the Rays to have had Don as such an important part of our organization. It is with great pride that we honor him and the game by retiring his number.”

No. 66 was the last uniform number worn by the beloved Zimmer and signified his number of years in professional baseball. He spent 11 years in a Rays uniform (2004-14) most of any of the 14 major league clubs that employed him as a player, coach or manager.

Zimmer passed away June 4, 2014. He broke into the majors in 1954 as an infielder with the Brooklyn Dodgers and was a teammate of Jackie Robinson for the next three seasons. He went on to play 12 seasons with the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds and Washington Senators.
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From 1971 until his death, Zimmer either managed, coached or served as an advisor for nine major league clubs. During his 66-year career, his teams advanced to the postseason 19 times including all four of the Rays appearances (2008, 2010, 2011, 2013) and won six World Series rings. Prior to joining the Rays, he spent eight seasons as bench coach with the New York Yankees under Manager Joe Torre.

His uniform number will be posted high above the left-center field wall where it will join the Rays two other retired numbers: Wade Boggs’ No. 12 (retired in 1999) and Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 (retired by all teams in 1997).

Zimmer was in uniform for 55 major league Opening Days and this will be the first Opening Day without him since 1971. His wife, Soot, and son, Tommy, will be among those present for the ceremony.

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Don Zimmer Passes Away at Age 83

One of baseball’s great men, Don Zimmer, died Wednesday at 83 years old. He had been serving as a special adviser to the Tampa Bay Rays for the past several seasons after an outstanding career as a player, coach, manager and bench coach. The following is a release from the Tampa Bay Rays media relations department on Don Zimmer:

(St. Petersburg, FL) After 66 years in professional baseball, Rays Senior Baseball Advisor Don Zimmer passed away today BayCare Alliant Hospital in Dunedin, FL. He was 83. He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Jean (“Soot”), his son Thomas, daughter Donna, and four grandchildren: Beau, Whitney, Ron and Lane.

Over the course of his 56 seasons in the major leagues as a player, coach and manager he wore 14 different uniforms—but none longer than his 11 seasons with the Rays. Zimmer reached the postseason 19 times and owned six World Series rings: four as a coach with the New York Yankees and two as a player for the Brooklyn (1955) and Los Angeles (1959) Dodgers. He managed 13 seasons for the San Diego Padres, Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs, and was named National League Manager of the Year in 1989 after guiding the Cubs to the NL East Division title. Prior to joining the Rays in 2004, he spent eight seasons as bench coach for Yankees Manager Joe Torre.

“Today we all lost a national treasure and a wonderful man,” said Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg. “Don dedicated his life to the game he loved, and his impact will be felt for generations to come. His contributions to this organization are immeasurable. I am proud that he wore a Rays uniform for the past 11 years. We will miss him dearly.”
The Rays will honor the baseball icon with a moment of silence at today’s Rays-Marlins game at Tropicana Field and will conduct a special pregame ceremony prior to the Rays-Mariners game on Saturday.

Zimmer signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1949, beginning a 19-year playing career as an infielder. On July 7, 1953, while playing for St. Paul in the American Association, he was struck in the head by a pitch, spent two weeks in a semi-coma and missed the rest of the season with a fractured skull. The following year the Dodgers promoted him to the big leagues, where he was in the company of eight future Hall of Famers: Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snider, Dick Williams, Don Newcombe, Tom LaSorda and Manager Walter Alston. In total, Zim was teammates with 14 Hall of Famers, played under three Hall of Fame managers, and coached or managed many more.

He went on to play 12 seasons in the majors for the Brooklyn (1954-57) and Los Angeles (1958-59, 1963) Dodgers, Cubs (1960-61), New York Mets (1962), Cincinnati Reds (1962) and Washington Senators (1963-65). Zimmer was named to the 1961 NL All-Star Team as a second baseman for the Cubs. In 1962, he was the first player to try on a Mets uniform, modeling it at Huggins-Stengel Field in St. Petersburg.

Zimmer was born in Cincinnati on January 17, 1931, and attended Western Hills High School, where he began dating Soot. He and Soot, his high school sweetheart, were married beside home plate at Dunn Field in Elmira, N.Y., on
August 16, 1951. Since the late 1950s, they have made the Tampa Bay area their home.

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