Colorful player, manager, coach Don Zimmer dies at 83

Thu Jun 5, 2014 12:42am EDT
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(Reuters) - Don Zimmer, a colorful baseball lifer whose career touched such storied franchises as the Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox, died in Florida on Wednesday at age 83, the Tampa Bay Rays said.

The former Major League Baseball player, manager, coach and most recently senior adviser to the Rays, enjoyed a career that spanned more than 60 years.

Zimmer, a stocky man with muscular forearms and a jowly face that brought him the nickname "Popeye", had battled health issues in recent years and in April underwent heart surgery.

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig in a statement called Zimmer "a memorable contributor to baseball... 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."

Zimmer broke into the major leagues in 1954 as a infielder with the Dodgers, he was an original member of the New York Mets, he managed the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox and was bench coach of the Yankees for four World Series champions.

"I hired him as a coach, and he became like a family member to me," said MLB executive vice president Joe Torre, who was manager of those Yankees champions over a stretch from 1996 to 2000.

"He has certainly been a terrific credit to the game. The game was his life."

Zimmer played 12 seasons in the majors, also appearing for the Cubs, Reds, Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Senators.   Continued...

Tampa Bay Rays senior baseball advisor Don Zimmer (L) laughs with manager Joe Maddon before their MLB American League baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays in St. Petersburg, Florida September 1, 2010. REUTERS/Scott Audette