A lanky, catch-and-throw guy with a career .991 fielding percentage,
Jerry Zimmerman was rarely charged with a passed ball.
When Zimmerman turned 31 just five days before the Twins clinched the 1965
pennant, it was already his 14th season in professional baseball. Zimmerman was
17 when he began his pro career in San Jose in 1952 after signing as one of the
early "bonus babies" with Boston, receiving a reported $77,000.
He played with the Minneapolis Millers in '58 and '59 before finally making
it to the big leagues with Cincinnati in 1961, when the Reds went to the World
Series. In that Series, he played two games in the field, had no at-bats, yet
still had more World Series experience than most of his '65 teammates.
Zimmerman didn't provide any team with much at the plate during his career -- he
had barely hit 30 home runs in nine minor league seasons -- but he was capable behind the plate and stuck with the game, playing nearly a decade of minor league ball in the Boston Red Sox
organization before making it to the majors.
Zimmerman joined the Twins in '62, and quickly became one of the more
popular men in the clubhouse because of his dry sense of humor and willingness
to play with injuries. He once sat in the clubhouse, examining large bruises on
his legs from foul balls, and said, "If my son ever decides to catch, I'll
kick him right in the butt."
By 1967 the Twins were carrying only three coaches. Zimmerman was still an
active player, but was handed the duties of bullpen coach, which netted him
some extra money and a private room on road trips.
He was cast as Earl Battey's backup,
but Battey was struggling with injuries and missed 30 of the Twins first 49
games, leaving Zimmerman unable to answer the bullpen phone; he was too busy
Zimmerman's coaching career continued after his playing days, and in August
of 1978 he expanded his résumé by both managing and umpiring in
the big leagues.
In the second week of August, Zimmerman managed two games for the Twins when
manager Gene Mauch was hospitalized for a foot infection. The team went
Later that month, Zimmerman and Toronto Blue Jays' coach Don Leppert
joined a pair of amateur umpires to call the first inning of day game in
Toronto, the first scheduled game after major league umpires went on strike.
Zimmerman handled second base, and Leppert third.
A third amateur umpire joined the team in the second inning and the two
coaches retired to their benches.
Zimmerman eventually scouted briefly for the New York Yankees, then took a
role in the same capacity with Baltimore. His entire adult life was spent in
baseball, essentially. He had retired a few months before suffering his fatal