St. Petersburg, Florida – During Don Zimmer's time in baseball, there was someone along for the ride that stayed largely out of public eye: his wife, Soot Zimmer.
"I was the nanny, I was the driver. We never shipped cars. I loved it… every place we'd been I have Ioved," she told 10 News on Friday.
She recalled packing up the family car and driving all the way from Pinellas County to Los Angeles, when Don started playing with the Dodgers. But by the time she settled into their apartment, he had already been traded to the Washington Senators.
"From here to LA and LA to Washington… that's a long way," Soot Zimmer said.
Inside the Seminole Condo she shared with her husband in recent year, there is a display case of mementos that were collected over dozens of years, but son Tom Zimmer said it was his personality that connected him to people.
"He was like, loveable, so people just migrated to him," he said.
Zimmer's son told us he was amazed that his father would talk to the famous and non-famous alike with no regard to status.
"He didn't know the movie stars and the rock stars and Paul McCartney sitting there," he said. "He would talk to them like a regular Joe and see they just thought that was great and he'd tell them stories."
Tom Zimmer is convinced that his position as senior advisor for the Rays kept him going strong throughout the years.
Tom Zimmer is convinced that his position as senior advisor for the Rays kept him going strong throughout the years. WTSP
"He fought through the sickness to be on the field to be with the team. So that kept him going longer."
On Saturday, a Celebration of Life ceremony will be held at Tropicana Field at 3:30 p.m. in lieu of a funeral.
"His whole life in on the field, we were married at home plate. I can't think of a better way of going out that having it at the ballpark," said Soot Zimmer.
In lieu of flowers, the family asked donations be made to either the National Kidney Foundation or the Baseball Assistance team.
National Kidney Foundation
1040 Woodcock Rd Ste 119, Orlando, Fla. 32803
Phone: (407) 894-7325
Baseball Assistance Team
245 Park Avenue - 31st Floor, New York, NY 10167
Phone: (212) 931-7822