I was at a baseball game in St. Petersburg, Florida, Wednesday night when news filtered through the stands that baseball legend Don Zimmer had died. His death was not broadcast by the stadium announcer or flashed on the giant video screen.
Almost everyone at Tropicana Field seemed to have a cell phone, and, as the news spread on social networks, it also spread by word of mouth. A friend even showed me a photo on his phone of Tampa Bay Rays coach Tom Foley – who wears Zimmer’s number 66 as a tribute – crying at the news in the dugout.
Don Zimmer was a baseball legend fueled, not by his talent (he was a .235 career hitter), but by his longevity and the rich variety of his experiences:
- He knew Babe Ruth.
- He played with and befriended Jackie Robinson.
- A pitch fractured his skull, rendering him unconscious for two weeks, ushering in the era of the batting helmet.