Former Cubs manager Don Zimmer dies at 83

By Paul Sullivan, Tribune reporter

Former Cubs manager Don Zimmer died Wednesday at the age of 83, his son, Tom, told the Tampa Bay Times.

Zimmer, nicknamed “Popeye” for his big cheeks, spent 65 years in baseball.

But few of them were as wild as his three-plus year stint managing the Chicago Cubs, who he led to a division title in 1989 with an unpredictable style that he never been replicated.

Zimmer began his career with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1954, and later played for the Cubs, Mets, Reds and Washington Senators during a 12-year career, mostly as an infielder. After spending the 1966 season playing in Japan, Zimmer managed in the minors from 1967-’70 before becoming a coach with Montreal in 1971. He had several coaching stints afterwards, and managed the Padres, Red Sox, Rangers and Cubs, going 885-858 and winning one division title with the Cubs.

He was also bench coach under Joe Torre on four Yankees’ championship teams.

Zimmer played for the Cubs under their College of Coaches in 1961 and was dumped into the expansion pool when he popped off about the issue on a WGN-Ch. 9 pregame show. He also left the Cubs managerial job in the same manner early in 1991 after giving an ultimatum to Tribune Co. management to give him a contract extension.

Zimmer was proud to be a baseball lifer, and he died as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays organization .

“His life is his wife and family, baseball and the racetrack,” Cubs coach Jimmy Piersall told the Tribune in 1988.

psullivan@tribune.com

Twitter @pwsullivan

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