While suffering through tonight’s Red Sox/Indians mash-up, I was saddened to learn of the death of Don Zimmer. And let’s not pretend any differently: Zim was the man.
Although he was something of a punchline in Boston after his notorious stint as Red Sox manager in the 70s, Zimmer was one of the good guys. He was also one of the better ambassadors of the game, someone who bragged about never earning a paycheck outside of baseball and who was universally respected by pretty much everyone not named Bill Lee.
Of course, he was also front-and-center in the single strangest Red Sox moment of my lifetime: that time during the 2003 ALCS when Zim got his rhino on and charged Pedro Martinez. And I still wake up some mornings and ask myself, right after I check to make sure that no one’s swiped my rare Pete Schourek Collector Coins whilst I slept, if that really happened (spoiler: it did.)
It was insane and incredible and hilarious and really, really sad — particularly Zim’s tear-stained apology presser the following day and the thought of his grandkids watching the game at home, wondering if pop-pop lost his shit. But it stands as the single craziest thing I’ve seen in more than three decades of watching the Sox. And for that alone, I’ve got to give Zim his props.
His passing takes on even more poignancy in the wake of last weke’s reunion of the 2004 Red Sox at Fenway, during which Pedro referenced “Le Zim Tussle” as the one moment of his life he’d like to do over. I can only hope this message was communicated to Zim. But I’m sure he could have cared less. He was probably busy watching baseball.
I wish godspeed to the big guy. Here’s a video of Zim shaving.