Speed Reads

RIP

Baseball institution Don Zimmer is dead at 83

Getty Images

Don Zimmer, who died at age 83 on Wednesday, was a sort of baseball Zelig, appearing in some of the sport's most iconic moments. He was on the Brooklyn Dodgers' only World Series champion team, the Boys of Summer, and an inaugural player of the Mets, after the Dodgers decamped for Los Angeles. After 12 seasons as a player, Zimmer managed the 1978 Red Sox — when New York Yankee Bucky Dent's improbable home run knocked them out of the pennant race — and the 1989 Chicago Cubs, when that team made a rare trip to the National League playoffs.

In his 13 seasons as a manager, Zimmer never led a World Series champion team, though he filled in for manager Joe Torre for 36 games during the Yankees' winning 1999 season. He was married to the sport for more than 60 years, at least since marrying his wife at home plate in 1951, The New York Times reports.

And Zimmer was in the game until the end, advising the Tampa Ray Devils even after falling into a diabetic coma in 2012. His last big splash in Major League Baseball, however, was as Yankee bench coach, when he got in a short brawl with Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez during an especially contentious playoff game in 2003. It wasn't his finest moment, but to charge a prime athlete at age 72 shows a love of the game, a love of the fight. --Peter Weber