SI Vault
 
DOME PLATE
April 26, 1999
"When I came to, I didn't remember anything," Don Zimmer says of the beaning that nearly killed him. On July 7, 1953, when Zimmer was playing for the Triple A St. Paul Saints, he was hit in the head by a pitch from Columbus hurler Jim Kirk. Surgeons reduced the pressure on Zim's brain by drilling four holes in his skull, which were later filled with plugs made of tantalum, a metal used in lightbulb filaments and nuclear reactors. Three years later, as a Brooklyn Dodger, Zimmer was beaned by the Reds' Hal Jeffcoat. "After Jeffcoat hit me in the face," he says, "doctors examined my skull and said, 'What have you got in there?' told them, but somehow reports came out about a steel plate." Why not correct the tale, which made his head the butt of countless jokes? "Aw, it's like when people say they saw me play in Montreal," says the Yankees' interim manager. "I say, 'Thanks, I enjoyed it,' but I never played there. When somebody brought up the steel plate, I just said, 'Yeah, sure.' " Steel or no steel, he's one of the game's magnetic personalities.
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
April 26, 1999

Dome Plate

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue

"When I came to, I didn't remember anything," Don Zimmer says of the beaning that nearly killed him. On July 7, 1953, when Zimmer was playing for the Triple A St. Paul Saints, he was hit in the head by a pitch from Columbus hurler Jim Kirk. Surgeons reduced the pressure on Zim's brain by drilling four holes in his skull, which were later filled with plugs made of tantalum, a metal used in lightbulb filaments and nuclear reactors. Three years later, as a Brooklyn Dodger, Zimmer was beaned by the Reds' Hal Jeffcoat. "After Jeffcoat hit me in the face," he says, "doctors examined my skull and said, 'What have you got in there?' told them, but somehow reports came out about a steel plate." Why not correct the tale, which made his head the butt of countless jokes? "Aw, it's like when people say they saw me play in Montreal," says the Yankees' interim manager. "I say, 'Thanks, I enjoyed it,' but I never played there. When somebody brought up the steel plate, I just said, 'Yeah, sure.' " Steel or no steel, he's one of the game's magnetic personalities.

1