1. Rays

Don Zimmer tributes

Published Jun. 5, 2014


"Today we all lost a national treasure and a wonderful man. 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."

Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg

"Like everyone in Major League Baseball, I am deeply saddened by the loss of my friend Don Zimmer, one of our game's most universally beloved figures. A memorable contributor to baseball for more than 60 years, Don was the kind of person you could only find in the national pastime. … On behalf of Major League Baseball and the many clubs that 'Popeye' served in a distinguished baseball life, I extend my deepest condolences to Don's family, friends and his many admirers throughout our game."

Commissioner Bud Selig

"He was a wonderful man, and you couldn't have a better friend. What a great career in baseball he had, as a player, coach, manager, adviser. He's done it all. He was really good at baseball strategy. He was a little unorthodox, but it worked. He had been let go by the Yankees and I knew he had a lot of baseball left. I talked to Vince (Naimoli, the Devil Rays first owner) and said it would be good if we could bring Don aboard, and he worked it out.'' …

Longtime manager Lou Piniella

"I hired him as a coach, and he became like a family member to me. He has certainly been a terrific credit to the game. The game was his life. And his passing is going to create a void in my life and my wife Ali's. We loved him. The game of baseball lost a special person tonight. He was a good man."

MLB executive VP and former Yankees manager Joe Torre

"When he was a coach, he was great. He did his job, did what coaches do. But things are different when you become a manager. And he was feisty."

Longtime MLB umpire Richie Garcia

"Don spent a lifetime doing what he loved. He was an original — a passionate, old-school, one-of-a-kind baseball man who contributed to a memorable era in Yankees history. The baseball community will certainly feel this loss. On behalf of our organization, we offer our deepest condolences to his wife, Soot, their two children and four grandchildren."

Yankees managing general partner/ co-chairman Hal Steinbrenner

"We want to thank our many friends, relatives, baseball personnel, and fans around the country that have rooted so hard with prayers and well wishes for Pop's recovery. What a great life he has had. The game goes on without him now, but he surely would have expressed once again, 'that I was so lucky to be part of this game for a lifetime.' ''

Zimmer family statement

"My heart is very sad. A HOF person and someone overlooked for his service has moved on. Don Zimmer RIP my friend and manager."

- Johnny Bench, Hall of Fame catcher:

"He was just wonderful. It was an honor, a pleasure, and a huge grace to have known Don Zimmer."

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--- Vin Scully, legendary broadcaster

"Had the pleasure to work w/Don Zimmer w/the Rays & I just want to take a moment to remember one of baseballs greats. You will be missed.''

- Scott Kazmir, former Rays pitcher:

"I spoke to him right before he had his heart surgery, which would have been a couple weeks ago. My relationship has continued to be the same. Talked to him all the time on the phone, would see him every time we went to Tampa. I would see him sitting in the stands during the game. It's going to be really strange not to see him. Our relationship has always been close. I looked at him as a mentor. He taught me a lot about this game. He gave me my first opportunity, I'll never forget that. He told me with a week to go that I had made the club in 1989, but I couldn't tell anybody. I'm thinking, 'How am I going to do that?' I was scared to death to tell anyone; I really was. The only person I told was Kim. I waited a few days to tell my father, because I knew he wouldn't be able to keep it hush-hush. It's going to be really strange not to see him."

- Joe Girardi, Yankees manager:

"That's a tough one to swallow. Everyone knows how much Zim has meant, not only to our organization, but to baseball as a whole. Your thoughts and prayers go out to his family. That's tough news. I found out halfway through the game. That's a rough one. ... "Zim was around when I first came up. He's someone that taught me a lot about the game. He's been around and he's pretty much seen everything. His stories, his experiences, he was close to my family and good to my family. We'll miss him."

- Derek Jeter, Yankees star

"He was amazing. He was around as much as he could be. He would do his dialysis, and if he felt good enough, he'd come. If you got a chance to sit and talk with him, he wasn't overbearing but he would give you some baseball and tell you about your game. You didn't think he was paying so much attention, but he knew my game. He would sit down and help me with some things. Everybody talked about him like a father figure; one of the smartest baseball guys in the game. A lot of people are going to be sad about this."

- Kelly Johnson, former Rays/current Yankees infielder:

"Don was a baseball legend. He just touched so many people with his time, not only in this game but on this Earth."

- Mike Scioscia, Angels manager

"We are saddened by the passing of Don Zimmer, an original Met, who played in our very first game. He gave six decades of his life to baseball. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."

- Mets team statement

"I heard don zimmer passed away baseball just lost a legend very sad news he will be missed and loved by many popeye you will be missed

- Ozzie Guillen, longtime White Sox player, manager

So sad to hear the news, it was great to have met you Don Zimmer. R.I.P."

- Jose Lobaton, former Rays catcher

Marc Topkin, Times staff writer, from staff, wire and Twitter reports.


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