My brush with Don Zimmer’s greatness

It’s my hope to start using my blog to post more stories — some of them personal — that relate to communications.
On the news of the passing of one of the most beloved people in baseball, Don Zimmer, here’s a story of my brush with what made him a great and memorable person. In fact, the story percolated up in my memory just a couple of days ago; didn’t know Don Zimmer was sick but for some reason I was recalled a moment in Yankee stadium that relates to him. As my good friends know, I’ve seen more than my share of major league baseball games. And this is one of the sweetest recollections I have of being at a ballpark. It was during Zimmer’s first tour with the Yankees in the 80’s and I got to sit in the Yankees’ family section — my friend, Bo Parker’s cousin, Jay Howell, was a young pitcher for the Yanks, having gotten there in a trade with the Cubs. I wound up sitting next to a woman who was older than all the other people in the section; probably in her 50’s. She had a score book and was dressed more formally than you’d expect to see at the ballpark. Somehow it became apparent to me that she was probably there for Don Zimmer. I asked her if that was so and she broke out in the biggest smile — this woman was clearly in love with him — and said that she was his wife. Even as early as the 80’s the two had seen a LOT of Baseball so I asked her — letting her know that as a little boy I had seen her husband play at the Polo Grounds for the 62 Mets — what was the best time that she and her husband, Don Zimmer, had had in baseball. Without hesitation she said it was the years in Brooklyn; she said that playing there was so amazing because of the love of the fans, the people who followed the team, and even more so because of his teammates. She’d never thought that being in baseball could be so great until that time. Mrs Zimmer said that they had had wonderful experiences since then but nothing like the love they felt in their days in Brooklyn.
To close this, I’d normally write, “RIP Zimm” but I don’t think it’s an issue.
One of the communications lessons I learned from my father, the late, great Rheingold Beer salesman Pete Maneri, is that you can learn a lot about life and about people if you just remain open to others and ask them about themselves. That’s why I have stories like the one about the time I met Don Zimmer’s wife.

This entry was posted on Thursday, June 5th, 2014 at 1:33 pm and is filed under Observations. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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