Wednesday, January 18, 2006

January 18th, 1931

Don Zimmer Born

Ah, Popeye. Does 1931 seems a little early to anyone else? I guess it’s unfair that just because Zim looks like he’s about two hundred years old I automatically assume he actually is two hundred years old. The other thing about Zimmer is that people have apparently forgotten he had something of a Forrest Gump like ride throughout baseball.

Zim first came up in 1954 with the Dodgers but failed to make an impact that year and would really stick with the team in 1955 and see time at all the infield positions but first that year, as well as seeing time in that year's World Series. Of course, that 1955 World Series is relevant for having been when the Dodgers finally triumphed over their cross-town rivals, the Yankees.

Zimmer next pops up on April 11th, 1962 manning third base for the home team at the Polo Grounds. This is significant for being Opening Day for the worst team of all-time, the 1962 New York Mets and Zimmer was there as one of their Opening Day starters, the first of the team's more than one hundred and twenty men to man the hot corner.

Zimmer's next jaunt into baseball history was as a manager, this time watching his Red Sox blow a massive lead and eventually lose the 1978 pennant in a one-game playoff after Bucky Dent's (in)famous home run over the Green Monster put the Yankees ahead. Zimmer would also be present at the Yankees' (to this point) final triumph over the Red Sox, as Joe Torre's bench coach in 2003 as the Yankees came back against Zimmer's nemesis Pedro Martinez and won Game Seven in extra innings. Zimmer also was the bench coach for perhaps the greatest team of all-time, Torre's 1998 Yankees.

So there you are, Forrest Gump traveling through baseball embodied in Don Zimmer, watching as the Brooklyn Dodgers finally win their title, starting at third base for the Mets, watching the Red Sox blow it--twice, and spending a season with the Greatest Team of All Time. Not a bad life.

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