There are many moments throughout my career that stand out and while we’re winding down baseball season, it made me think of one particular highlight.
In 2004 I was privileged to spend two days with Donald Zimmer while doing a story with Dave Scheiber for the then St. Petersburg Times. The first day were scheduled to meet was a very cold December day and he didn’t want to go out, but said that he had a haircut appointment the next day and I would be welcome to tag along. It was my day off, but knew this was the moment to capture the story.
That day was as if I was visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame. He told baseball stories, most of which included Hall of Fame players, he shared moments and showed me his collection of baseball memorabilia. The Holiday tree was up and he pointed out a Popeye ornament. He was sometimes nicknamed “Popeye” because of his facial resemblance to the cartoon character – clearly he wasn’t offended by this reference and in fact, had embraced it.
Throughout the day I took photos. Photos of he and his Soot, shots from his morning haircut and even some while he showed me how to hit and hold the bat. My goal was to show in photos who and what this man was during his career and life. I felt like I captured that sense.
He left with me a genuine feeling of really getting to know him, which I think was reflected through the story and the photos that went along with it. I’ll never forget that he showed me how to grip a bat when in the batters’ box hitting. I can’t imagine how important he was to other players, younger players whom he gave advice to but I sure got a sense of it that day.
He died this past June and I’ll never forget what it was like to spend the day with him and capture him digitally but also just to capture that spirit that he carried with him. It was a special day for me, one that I will never forget and I’ll always remember how fortunate I was to meet him.