He 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.
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."
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