Rays to retire Don Zimmer’s #66 during opening day ceremony
(BTLS Staff) ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Rays announced Tuesday they will retire the No. 66 in honor of the club’s longtime senior adviser Don Zimmer.
They will do so during a pre-game ceremony for the team’s home opener on April 6th against American League East rival Baltimore. Zimmer passed away on June 4th, 2014 at the age of 83.
“Don Zimmer enriched the lives of everyone in the Rays family and he played a significant part in the growth of our organization,” said Tampa Bay’s Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg. “Zim’s presence has been a gift to the game of baseball and his influence will be felt for years to come.”
Zimmer wore #66 during his last appearances with the Rays, signifying the number of years he spent in professional baseball. He spent a total of 11 seasons in uniform with Tampa Bay, his longest tenure with any of the 14 clubs that employed him as a player, manager, coach or adviser.
‘Zim,’ broke into the majors in 1954 as an infielder with the Brooklyn Dodgers, where he was a teammate of Jackie Robinson for three seasons. He played a total of 12 seasons for the Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds and Washington Senators.
From 1971 until his passing, Zimmer managed, coached or served as an adviser for nine MLB clubs including the Yankees, Dodgers, Rangers and Rays.
Zimmer took part in the postseason during 19 of his 66 years in the game. He served as Joe Torre’s bench coach with the New York Yankees and picked up a total of six World Series rings during his career.
Sternberg: “It has been a true privilege of my stewardship of the Rays to have had Don as such an important part of our organization. It is with great pride that we honor him and the game by retiring his number.”
Zim’s uniform number will be posted high above the left-center field wall where it will join the Rays other two retired numbers – Wade Boss’ #12 (retired in 1999) and Jackie Robinson’s #42 (retired by all MLB clubs in 1997.)
Zimmer was in uniform for 55 of his 66 MLB opening days and this will be the first one without him since 1971. His wife, Soot, and son, Tommy, will be among those present for the April 6th ceremony.