Today's odd moment actually took place over three days in July of 1982. Don Zimmer, looking dour here on card 195 of the 1982 Donruss set, was the Rangers manager at the start of the 1982 season. On July 26th owner Eddie Chiles notified Zimmer that he was fired.
Firing a manager is not all that unusual. Where the story starts to take a turn is when Chiles asked Zimmer to stay on until he could name a replacement. Apparently Chiles was having trouble deciding if he should name Darrell Johnson or Fred Koenig to replace Zimmer. Both were coaches with the team. Johnson got the job. Reportedly he got the nod because Koenig had recently gotten an accidental black eye and Chiles didn't think that would look good on TV.
Don managed three more games before the official announcement of his firing on the 28th. During that time rumors began to surface about Zimmer's firing. Chiles denied them. Following the team's loss to the Brewers on the 28th Chiles and Zimmer met with the media. With Zimmer sitting next to him, Chiles announced the firing. He then said that, "Don didn't do anything wrong. He's my friend, and I hope I'm his friend." Zimmer spent the time looking at the ceiling. When asked if he understood why he had been fired Zimmer replied, "No. Hell no. He (Chiles) says he understands, but I don't."
Apparently Zimmer wasn't the only person who didn't understand. Newly minted manager Darrell Johnson immediately told the media that he planned no wholesale changes to the team. Speaking to reporters Johnson said, "I never saw a thing that Zimmy did that I thought was wrong. I have no magic wand to wave."
Maybe Eddie Chiles knew why he fired Zimmer but it was apparent that nobody at the field level knew why. Two things are certain though. One is that Darrell Johnson had no magic wand, he would lead the team to a 26-40 record for the rest of the season. The second thing is that the situation was most unusual from start to finish.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
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I never knew Zimmer skippered for the Rangers. Learned something new
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