Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Rays players pay tribute to Don Zimmer

ST. PETERSBURG — Rays senior adviser Don Zimmer said each of the 54 big-league opening days he has experienced has been special in its own way.

But Zimmer, 82, will likely never forget his latest Tuesday. At the urging of bench coach Dave Martinez, the entire Rays team stood behind home plate as Zimmer's son, Tom, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to third baseman Evan Longoria, making for a touching and emotional moment.

All players, coaches and staff members helped deliver the ball to Zimmer, who had tears in his eyes as he was flanked by wife, Soot, daughter-in-law, Marian, and grandsons Bo and Ron.

"I thought he really responded to us; you could tell he was a little bit emotional," second baseman Ben Zobrist said. "He really cares about us, every one of us individually. To see all of us out there, I think that was special for him and you could see that in his face."

Said manager Joe Maddon: "That was outstanding. … He absolutely deserves that. That whole moment was very, very good. The photographs are going to be outstanding with that, I'm sure."

Maddon said Zimmer, who managed four teams and served as Yankees bench coach, has become iconic. Zimmer, entering his 10th season with the Rays, has been a respected adviser to the staff and an invaluable resource to players, including Longoria, who calls him a "great mentor" and "great ambassador for baseball."

But with Zimmer having to undergo dialysis eight hours a day, he wasn't around as much this spring and admitted it's a struggle for him to walk. Zimmer, who is usually in uniform in the dugout for every home game, feels incredibly lucky to be in baseball for 65 years and said it was important his family was there for Tuesday's opener.

Said Zimmer: "You never know if it's going to be the last."

Tampa Bay Rays players pay tribute to Don Zimmer 04/02/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 4:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Dirk Koetter sounds Bucs alarm: 'They're the players that we have'

    Blogs

    The other day, Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith was asked about the lack of production and pressure from the defensive line, especially off the edge.

    Then it happened.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (28) takes the field for the start of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the New England Patriots on October 5, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.
  2. Superiority complex: USF continues to battle schedule, expectations

    College

    TAMPA — His voice, a perpetually scratchy bellow, betrays conviction. USF coach Charlie Strong has been asked if he believes he has the 16th-best team in America. Hesitation doesn't precede his response. Resolution fuels it.

    Does USF deserve its No. 16 national ranking? Coach Charlie Strong says there's no doubt. He expects that his Bulls can match up with any Division I-A program. (Octavio Jones, Times)
  3. Rick and Tom podcast: Who will be the Bucs' QB on Sunday?

    Blogs

    Who the Bucs' quarterback will be Sunday against the Bills became clear as mud as Jameis Winston hasn't thrown all week but will take all the practice reps today.

    Will Ryan Fitzpatrick start for the Bucs Sunday in Buffalo?
  4. College football viewing guide, Week 8

    College

    Miami quarterback Malik Rosier (12) hands off to running back Travis Homer (24) during the first half of an NCAA College football game against Georgia Tech, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017 in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
  5. Little separates McElwain and Muschamp eras of futility at Florida

    College

     Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain watches the second quarter of the Florida Gators game against Texas A&M, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, in Gainesville.