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Rays tales: Zim Tales

Zimmer with the Dodgers, with whom he won two World Series.

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Zimmer with the Dodgers, with whom he won two World Series.

In lasting tribute

• The Rays are expected, perhaps on opening day next season, to retire Zimmer's No. 66. It will be their third retired number, joining Wade Boggs' 12 and MLB-wide Jackie Robinson's 42.

• The Rays unveiled a ZIM patch that will be worn on the right sleeve of their jerseys.

• Third-base coach Tom Foley will continue to wear Zimmer's jersey this season.

Strategic edge

Among myriad intangible benefits Zimmer brought the Rays, there are two specific plays they run because he advocated them:

• The safety squeeze with runners on first and third with no or one outs. Manager Joe Maddon had noted how the Yankees, with Zimmer as their bench coach, used it so effectively and was quick to get details when he came over and adopt it.

• How they react to a double down the leftfield line with the shortstop going out for the throw, the third baseman trailing and the second baseman covering third.

Zim by the numbers

.235 Career batting average over parts of 12 big-league seasons

6 World Series rings won, two as a Dodgers player (1955, '59) and four as a Yankees coach ('96, '98, '99, 2000)

11 Years with the Rays, most of any one team

14 Major-league teams for which he coached, managed or played

19 Trips to the postseason, covering 73 games

66 Years in pro baseball, including 56 in the majors

1,254 Players Zimmer either was a teammate of, coach for or managed, representing nearly 7 percent of all major-leaguers in history, per baseball-reference.com, and including 28 (and counting) of the 211 players in the Hall of Fame

Zim in the spotlight

Zimmer was the first to model the expansion Mets uniform prior to their 1962 inaugural spring training. … Zimmer teamed with New York Daily News columnist Bill Madden for two books, Zim: A Baseball Life (in 2001) and The Zen of Zim (2004). … Appeared in a TV commercial for Gillette razors early in his career with Dodgers teammates Pee Wee Reese and Roy Campanella and one in 2002 for Preparation H. … As Cubs manager, he did radio commercials for Popeyes chicken and the Nutrisystem diet plan, prompting buddy Jim Leyland to note, "Zim gets paid to eat and to diet." … Among TV appearances, an April 1999 interview on the Late Show with David Letterman in April 1999. … Also, his 2003 ALCS incident with Pedro Martinez was spoofed in a Saturday Night Live segment, "The Don Zimmer Sports Spectacular" that included Halle Berry. … Was featured in the July 2001 edition of Esquire. … The Zim Bear giveaway in 2012 proved to be one of the Rays' most popular ever. There is a Zimmer snow globe promotion on July 25 this year.

Zim rumblings

Hard not to note the Rays broke their 10-game losing streak on 6-6 as Zimmer wore No. 66. … Noting Zimmer's affinity for chili dogs from St. Petersburg's Coney Island Grill, manager Joe Maddon suggested a similarly made ZimDog be sold at the ballpark or restaurant. … Zimmer is a member of two Halls of Fame: Red Sox and Cincinnati Public High School Sports. … Zimmer's family asks in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the National Kidney Foundation (kidney.org) or the Baseball Assistance team (baseballassistanceteam.com).

Rays tales: Zim Tales 06/07/14 [Last modified: Saturday, June 7, 2014 10:21pm]
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