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06/04/2014

A little known fact about the late Don Zimmer & the Texas Rangers

1982 Donruss #195He was known for his cartoonish facial features, his sense of humor and his tenures with the Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees, but it's a mostly forgotten fact that Don Zimmer managed the Texas Rangers for two seasons - 1981 and '82.

He was one win away from becoming the first manager to lead the Rangers to the playoffs.

According to this story on the New York Daily News, Zimmer died on Wednesday night in Florida. He was 83.

In 1981, he managed the Rangers to a 57-48 record. The season was shortened because of a strike.
On June 11, 1981 the team blew a 3-1 lead against the Brewers on the last day before the player's strike. Had the Rangers won that game, they would have finished first and clinched a playoff spot.

In 1982, the Rangers were 38-58 under Zimmer before he was replaced by Darrell Johnson. He was fired on July 28.

"I played for him twice - in Texas and Chicago," former Rangers catcher Jim Sundberg told me. "He was a passionate guy. He loved the game. As a manager, when the team was stuck and not winning he tried to do things to make the team win. Most everybody loved him.

"He understood the game. He was a funny guy. He liked the horse track. He really did. Most people realized that baseball was his life, and he loved it. He was passionate about baseball. I saw him two years ago." 

@MacEngelProf
tengel@star-telegram.com
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