On November 12, 1980 — Don Zimmer is named manager of the Texas Rangers, becoming the 10th manager in the club’s nine-year history.
In his last stint as a manager, Zimmer will post 265 wins vs 258 loses. Including 1 90+ win season.
The Giants offered Zimmer a two-year contract, but he learned that Dallas Green had been fired as the Cubs’ GM and that Jim Frey was taking his place. Frey called to offer Zim the manager’s job, which he took – the Cubs had a lot of young talent.
The Cubs were below .500 in 1988. Before the 1989 season, Frey and Zimmer decided that their number-one priority was a closer. They targeted Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams, and the price was Rafael Palmeiro. Williams saved 36 games in 76 appearances. The 1989 Cubs were known as “The Boys of Zimmer,” a takeoff on Roger Kahn’s book, The Boys of Summer. The Cubs surprised the league, winning the Eastern Division. A 23-year-old Greg Maddux won 19 games and Mark Grace established himself as one of the premier first basemen in the National League. The Cubs featured four All-Stars, Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson, Rick Sutcliffe, and Williams. Jerome Walton captured the NL Rookie of the Year award. But the Cubs lost to the Giants, 4 games to 1, in the NLCS.
In 1990 the Cubs fell back to fourth place, with a 77-85 record. After the team started off the 1991 season with an 18-19 record, Zimmer was fired. That ended his career as a major-league manager; he was 885-858 over 13 years.
For only the second time in Zimmer’s professional baseball career, he found himself at home in the summer without a job. He admitted that it was kind of nice spending time with his family and doing things he was never able to do, such as going to the horse track and enjoying his grandchildren – but he was itching to work in baseball again.
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