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Friday, June 06, 2014

Angell: Don Zimmer, 1931-2014

Our universal affection for Zim is complicated, beginning as it does with our childlike joy in his bald cannonball head and stumpy bod and jack-o’-lantern grin, but encompassing as well, I think, a deep trust in and respect for his decades of exemplary competitive service, without stardom or contemporary distraction. He was a baseball figure from an earlier time: enchantingly familiar, tough and enduring, stuffed with plays and at-bats and statistics and anecdotes and wisdom accrued from tens of thousands of innings. Baseball stays on and on, unchanged, or so we used to think as kids, and Zimmer, sitting there, seemed to be telling us yes, you’re right, and see you tomorrow.

Good cripple hitter Posted: June 06, 2014 at 01:15 AM | 24 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: coaching, don zimmer, obituary, roger angell

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   1. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: June 06, 2014 at 05:04 PM (#4720608)
Um, seeing this headline for a second made me think that Roger had died.
   2. Steve Treder Posted: June 06, 2014 at 05:10 PM (#4720617)
It's beginning to seem that Roger will never die.
   3. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: June 06, 2014 at 05:22 PM (#4720631)
I assumed it was one of those doomed love pacts.
   4. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 06, 2014 at 05:36 PM (#4720643)
Angell is great, but this is a little silly:

I think Zim is best remembered as the guy right next to manager Joe Torre on the right-hand side of the Yankees dugout in the good years: a motionless thick, short figure, heavily swathed in Yankee formals.


Zimmer was the man in charge of two highly memorable teams: the operatically doomed 1978 Red Sox and the roll-the-dice miraculous 1989 Cubs. I'm sorry that neither of those took place in New York, but he deserves to be remembered for those, and not as a spear carrier for the Yankees.

The only reason he was on the Yankees at all was because he walked out on his job as bench coach of the Rockies in 1995, right in the middle of a game. But I guess we're not supposed to talk about that.
   5. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: June 06, 2014 at 05:48 PM (#4720650)
"heavily swathed in Yankee formals" = he wore a jacket.

This is not A+ work by Angell. In 2003, did we rooters watch, like Daedalus toeing the Icarian sands, as Zimmer tumbled with an otherworldly half rotation to the manicured terrain of the Fens?
   6. Good cripple hitter Posted: June 06, 2014 at 05:58 PM (#4720660)
Um, seeing this headline for a second made me think that Roger had died.


The print headline is just "Zim", which seemed a bit short. The webpage title is what I used. I didn't want to edit the headline and I wanted to identify the author of the article in the intro. Sorry for the confusion.
   7. Bourbon Samurai Posted: June 06, 2014 at 06:03 PM (#4720664)
eh, he captures pretty well how i remember zimmer. love this:
Zim sitting is the way he comes back to mind, for me. Like a few other old coaches, he had converted clubhouse silence and immobility—elbows on knees, hands folded, head aimed forward and downward, lips zipped—into something like a regional religious practice.


It may not be Angell's best, but it's not bad at all for a 93 year old.
   8. Steve Treder Posted: June 06, 2014 at 06:07 PM (#4720667)
This is not A+ work by Angell.

Fer fux sake. He's 93.
   9. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: June 06, 2014 at 06:17 PM (#4720675)
I certainly will best remember him as Torre's right-hand man during the Yanks fantastic 90's run but I'm 36. Still, he was quite the presence during a pretty historic period of success.
   10. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: June 06, 2014 at 06:30 PM (#4720684)
Fer fux sake. He's 93.

And he's written good things this year. This ain't one.
   11. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: June 06, 2014 at 06:42 PM (#4720689)
Any writers who peaked age 70 or older?
   12. Jick Posted: June 06, 2014 at 06:52 PM (#4720690)
His peak was earlier, but Sophocles had at least one great play after turning ninety.
   13. TerpNats Posted: June 06, 2014 at 07:15 PM (#4720704)
Zimmer was the man in charge of two highly memorable teams: the operatically doomed 1978 Red Sox and the roll-the-dice miraculous 1989 Cubs.
Were they highly memorable because of their fates, or because they were the high-profile Red Sox and Cubs? How are the '78 Bosox any different than the collapsed 1995 Angels of Marcel Lachemann, a team that didn't have a pretentious fan and media base following them? (No one would ever use the phrase "operatic" when referring to the Angels, even with their star-crossed history.) And the '89 North Siders were nowhere as memorable as their '84 counterparts, and fizzled against the Giants in the NLCS.
   14. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 06, 2014 at 07:45 PM (#4720721)
Were they highly memorable because of their fates, or because they were the high-profile Red Sox and Cubs?


They were highly memorable because people remember them.

The Red Sox were not a particularly high-profile franchise in 1978. The Yankees, the Dodgers, the Reds, the Orioles, the Phillies - those were all higher-profile than the Red Sox.
   15. Steve Treder Posted: June 06, 2014 at 08:06 PM (#4720730)
The Red Sox were not a particularly high-profile franchise in 1978.

Um, what? The Red Sox "Impossible Dream" season of 1967 was among the very biggest baseball stories of that decade, and it put the Red Sox right back on the map (off of which they had, to be sure, slipped since the mid-1950s) as one of the sport's most visible franchises. The 1975 World Series between the Red Sox and the Reds was loudly touted, right as it was happening, as one of the very greatest World Series in history, with Fisk's dramatic home run at Fenway Park instantly recognized by everyone as one of the sport's iconic moments. The slugging Red Sox team of 1977 was lavished with a big feature story in Sports Illustrated, which attempted to nickname them (it, uh, didn't stick) "Boomer and the Crunch Bunch."

The Red Sox were a very, very high-profile franchise in 1978.
   16. Bruce Markusen Posted: June 06, 2014 at 08:19 PM (#4720736)
Zimmer was Torre's bench coach during the Yankee dynasty and was often seen giving advice to Torre during that time. How is that not a high profile position, especially given that those Yankees assembled one of the game's greatest dynasties of the expansion era?

And let me echo what Steve said about the 1978 Red Sox. They were a team filled with stars, including three future Hall of Famers (Yaz, Rice, and Fisk), several well known stars in Scott, Lynn, Evans and Tiant, and notable characters like Bill Lee and Bernie Carbo (at least before he was traded). They also had a strong rivalry with the Yankees at the time (fueled by Fisk, Munson, Nettles and Lee), which only underscored the team's popularity.

I think it can be said that Zimmer is well remembered for his association with both teams.
   17. Rob_Wood Posted: June 06, 2014 at 08:47 PM (#4720747)
Speaking of the ill-fated 1978 BoSox, I am sure those like me old enough vividly remember that early September series between the Yankees and the Red Sox at Fenway (immediately christened "The Boston Massacre"). This was when they only had one weekly game on Saturday nationally televised. Of course, NBC had Tony Kubek and Joe Garagiola at Fenway that day. Ron Guidry and the Yankees creamed the Red Sox to climb within a game of first place. Near the end of the game, Kubek said something that I've never forgotten. He said that he had been around baseball for over 20 years but this was the first time he had ever seen a first place team (the Red Sox) trying to catch up to the second place team (the Yankees).

Anyway, the 1978 Red Sox were definitely the talk of baseball right up until Yaz's popup fell into Nettles's glove.
   18. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: June 06, 2014 at 08:48 PM (#4720748)
Post 11

Me
   19. Don Malcolm Posted: June 06, 2014 at 10:23 PM (#4720795)
The Red Sox were not a particularly high-profile franchise in 1978. The Yankees, the Dodgers, the Reds, the Orioles, the Phillies - those were all higher-profile than the Red Sox.


It would actually be interesting to find a way to measure this. My gut (and my memory) tells me that the order in '78 was probably Yankees, Dodgers, Red Sox, Reds, Orioles, Phillies.

This is actually the kind of thing that Bill James has always been fascinated by, so someone might want to toss it up as a clay pigeon into the "Hey Bill" thingamabob.
   20. villageidiom Posted: June 06, 2014 at 10:37 PM (#4720803)
They were a team filled with stars, including three future Hall of Famers (Yaz, Rice, and Fisk)
Four: Eckersley.
   21. Nasty Nate Posted: June 06, 2014 at 10:39 PM (#4720804)
How are the '78 Bosox any different than the collapsed 1995 Angels


They tied their long-time rivals and defending champs at over .600, lost a close playoff game at Fenway park, and their vanquisher won the world series; versus the Angels and Mariners were .540 teams who tied in a strike-shortened year, and the playoff game was a blowout in the Kingdome.
   22. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 06, 2014 at 10:46 PM (#4720805)
Um, what? The Red Sox "Impossible Dream" season of 1967 was among the very biggest baseball stories of that decade, and it put the Red Sox right back on the map (off of which they had, to be sure, slipped since the mid-1950s) as one of the sport's most visible franchises. The 1975 World Series between the Red Sox and the Reds was loudly touted, right as it was happening, as one of the very greatest World Series in history, with Fisk's dramatic home run at Fenway Park instantly recognized by everyone as one of the sport's iconic moments. The slugging Red Sox team of 1977 was lavished with a big feature story in Sports Illustrated, which attempted to nickname them (it, uh, didn't stick) "Boomer and the Crunch Bunch."


There are at least five other teams you could have written a similar litany about in 1978.
   23. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 06, 2014 at 11:37 PM (#4720820)
How are the '78 Bosox any different than the collapsed 1995 Angels


They tied their long-time rivals and defending champs at over .600, lost a close playoff game at Fenway park, and their vanquisher won the world series; versus the Angels and Mariners were .540 teams who tied in a strike-shortened year, and the playoff game was a blowout in the Kingdome.

Glad that someone noted this. The 1995 Angels blew a huge lead, but so have plenty of other teams. If you want to talk about two much more memorable Angels' collapses, you might try 1982 or 1986, when they even matched the upcoming "one strike away" saga of the team that beat them.
   24. Perry Posted: June 07, 2014 at 12:45 AM (#4720836)
He said that he had been around baseball for over 20 years but this was the first time he had ever seen a first place team (the Red Sox) trying to catch up to the second place team (the Yankees).


Hadn't heard that, but Pete Rose said it about the Reds chasing the Dodgers in 1973 -- something like "we're still behind them, but they're chasing us." Got a lot of play around Cincy that summer.

(On June 30 that year, the Dodgers beat the Reds to take an 11-game lead. The next day, the Reds won game 1 of a doubleheader 4-3 on a 3-run walkoff homer by pinch-hitting 3rd string catcher Hal King, won the nightcap in another walkoff, then won yet another walkoff vs. LA the next day to cut it to 8 and the comeback was truly on. The Reds ended up clinching with 5 to play, so a 17-game turnaround in 3 months.)

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