More on Baseball’s Bumbling Buffoons

This evening in the bookstore I got caught up in former Yankee coach (and Rangers manager) Don Zimmer’s book, ZIM: A Baseball Life, co-authored by Bill Madden. I didn’t buy the book but can recommend it based on what I’ve read so far, mainly regarding his short and frustrating stint with the Rangers and his wild times with Billy Martin’s Yankees. Zimmer’s first Yankees run included his initiation of the infamous Pine Tar Incident — an ugly ordeal that ignited the normally jovial George Brett of the Royals into the most infamous and explosive on-field tantrum in the sport’s history.

Zimmer’s stories about Martin and owner George Steinbrenner alone make the book worth reading, though I’m parsimonious enough to either check it out from a library or wait until it hits the used bookstores.

ZIM had only a few pages devoted to his management of the Rangers, a suitably minimalistic and passing segment thanks to the team’s meddling ownership and terrible play. But Zimmer did give me a couple of gems for use in my OH NO! website about the Rangers.

In 1981, relief pitcher Steve Comer became Don Zimmer’s closer, but had one very bad day. First, a practice ball ricocheted off a batting cage and into his mouth, busting a couple of teeth. That night, while waiting at a DFW Airport bar for a flight to the next road game, Comer ordered a drink with actual fire on top. He spilled the flaming concoction on his face, in turn torching his beard.

After firing manager Don Zimmer, Eddie Chiles asked Zimmer to manage a couple more games because he couldn’t decide who would replace the latter as interim manager. He narrowed his search to assistants Fred Koenig and Darrell Johnson, then just to Johnson after deciding that Koenig’s black eye (acquired by accident, not by fight) wouldn’t look good on TV. Problem was, Chiles didn’t know what his own employee and choice for manager even looked like. While trying to find Johnson in the clubhouse to offer him the job, Chiles asked the man in front of coach Wayne Terwilliger’s locker for the whereabouts of Darrell Johnson. That man was Darrell Johnson.

More great stories should come out soon when Terwilliger (a former base coach in two separate stints, and recently retired manager of the Fort Worth Cats minor league club) completes his book soon. Since one of Terwilliger’s friends pleasantly corresponded with me about the “OH NO!” page a few months ago, I actually might buy that one new. [In the meantime, here’s Wayne Terwilliger’s home page. Check it out. He’s got quite a long and colorful history in the sport!]

The last entry before tonight also is reproduced in the BLOG; and I’ll probably do this some more in the future. I’ve had a great deal of fun with the “OH NO!” Rangers page since beginning it late last century!


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