Legendary Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully was one of countless baseball personalities who mourned the loss of longtime manager and coach Don Zimmer on Wednesday.
Zimmer died on Wednesday night at a hospital in Dunedin, Florida, the New York Daily News reported. The 83-year-old recently underwent heart-valve surgery and was diagnosed with fibrosis on his lungs.
Scully, who bore witness to Zimmer’s six years with the Dodgers as a player in the 1950s, praised the baseball legend as “the most beloved Dodger amongst his teammates," Deadspin noted.
“There were those who were very popular, there were those who were respected, but rarely do you ever put the title ‘beloved’ on a player, and Zimmer was,” Scully said.
When his playing days were over, Zimmer returned to the dugout and spent several decades as a manager and coach for the Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers, Chicago Cubs and many other MLB franchises. He was a key part of the New York Yankees’ dynasty in the 1990s, when he served as bench coach alongside the team’s manager, Joe Torre.
Torre, who was close friends with Zimmer until his death, released a statement about his death. “I hired him as a coach, and he became like a family member to me. He has certainly been a terrific credit to the game. The game was his life. And his passing is going to create a void in my life and my wife Ali’s. We loved him. The game of baseball lost a special person tonight. He was a good man,” Torre said.
In 2004, Zimmer left the Yankees to serve as a senior baseball adviser to the Tampa Bay Rays. On Wednesday night, Todd Kalas, a Rays broadcaster for the last 17 years, became emotional while discussing Zimmer’s death.
“In the 17 years that I’ve been with the organization, this might be my least favorite report that I’ve ever done,” Kalas said. “[…] He was just a joy to be around, guys. It was a treat. I felt like I was getting a gift every time we talked.”
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig also weighed in on Zimmer’s passing. “Like everyone in Major League Baseball, I am deeply saddened by the loss of my friend Don Zimmer, one of our game’s most universally beloved figures,” he said. “A memorable contributor to Baseball for more than 60 years, Don was the kind of person you could only find in the National Pastime.”
Zimmer is survived by his wife, Soot, his son, Tom, and his daughter, Donna.