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The Loop

Don Zimmer: His was a baseball life that made ample room for golf

June 05, 2014

By John Strege

Don Zimmer, who died on Wednesday at 83, was a baseball lifer and a bona fide character, as the nicknames he had, Popeye and the Gerbil, would imply. He was also, like so many from that sport, known to spend much of his off-season time on the golf course.

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He wrote two books, the second entitled, "The Zen of Zim." In the first, an autobiography entitled, "Zim," the wisdom and perspective he had was evident in a story he told about playing golf with his former Dodgers teammate Pee Wee Reese, when the latter was 77 and battling cancer:

"He'd been a great golfer all his life, regularly shooting in the 70s, and now he could barely hit the ball fifty yards. Look at that!' he complained. I can't hardly hit the damn ball out of my shadow!'

"Look at us!' I countered. Thank God we're on the golf course, still playing! It doesn't matter how far you can hit the ball anymore. The joy and satisfaction is just being here!'"

Jackie Robinson, a Brooklyn Dodgers' teammate, was a friend of Zimmer's and a frequent golf partner (see Tweet below), as Zimmer recounted in "Zim." The winter after Robinson retired, he was heading to Tampa on a business trip and called Zimmer to schedule a golf game. "That was about as big a thrill as I ever had," he wrote, "Jackie Robinson thinking enough of me to want to play golf with me."

Don Zimmer golfing with Jackie Robinson pic.twitter.com/6kSaXPqIiO

— Dugout Legends (@DugoutLegends) June 5, 2014