My remembrances of a baseball lifer, Don Zimmer, by Billy Sample


I played eight years and a month in the majors (and I’m proud of that month) and had eight managers during that tenure; my favorite one passed away today, Don Zimmer. I thought he told it to you as straight as it could be told, and it always wasn’t what I wanted to hear.

A trade late in spring training for Lee Mazzilli in 1982 had me wondering where Lee was going to play. I walked into the clubhouse the next morning, and the clubhouse attendant said that Zim wanted to see me, “Noooooo!” I was mad going in and not all that happy coming out, but I could appreciate him trying to use the analogy of him backing up Pee Wee Reese when he thought he would get a shot at shortstop in the fifties with the Dodgers. Oh, as you know he was quite a character, one day after a night game in Texas and an off day before going to Toronto, we left early in the morning on the off day, usually, the team would leave later in the evening, as there is no need to be in the home team’s city by eleven a.m. However there is a need if you want to get to the horse track and bet on all thirteen races. And you should have seen this old school Dodger trying to implement the new wave short term performance philosophy directed by the front office. How many hits will you get in your next thirty at bats, six, seven, eight? I reached for the pocket schedule he had on his desk, “Are we facing both Morris and Petry in the next series?” Number given had to be readjusted. If you were around him for any period of time, you have a story. I have more, maybe for another time. Condolences to his lovely and congenial widow, Soot. The game and the people involved were better because of his sixty-six year association.

Sincerely,Billy Sample

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