Yankees' Zimmer honored in Red Sox territory

Monday, May 27th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WINDHAM, N.H. (AP) _ For at least an hour, the heated rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees was set aside to honor the Yankees' Don Zimmer.

Bench coach Don Zimmer, a former Red Sox manager, had one of the three new Little League and softball fields in Griffin Park named after him. Zimmer, 72, was honored because he had donated thousands of dollars, including sports memorabilia, to the league.

Zimmer took time out Sunday morning before the Boston-New York game Sunday night for the dedication that turned out to be a double surprise for Zimmer, whose daughter lives a short distance away.

``Just as we were getting ready to leave, a police officer in town here, Scott, was coming down the driveway. I thought he was coming to arrest me, but he was coming to give me an escort to the field,'' Zimmer told the crowd of several hundred people.

``I thought there would only be about 25 people or so here today and as we got closer to the field I saw there were cars lined up and down the road. I couldn't believe it.''

Among them were Yankees manager Joe Torre and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre.

``When Don came around the dugout, he nearly bumped into Joe,'' said Windham Baseball Softball League president Charlie McMahon. ``You should've seen the look on Don's face. Don had no idea those guys would be there. They made it a really special day.''

The league unveiled a granite monument set with a bronze plaque bearing Zimmer's image. It will be placed at the field.

A second wall plaque, modeled to look like a plaque at the Hall of Fame, was presented to Zimmer and wife, Jean, to take to their Florida home.

``He is our Hall of Fame,'' McMahon said. ``He's really done a lot for the town.''

Zimmer became tearful as he thanked the crowd and embraced his daughter, Donna Mollica, an official of the league.

``I'm fat and old and weigh 230 pounds,'' Zimmer joked. ``But my daughter, she weighs about 80 pounds because she's always running around doing stuff. So many people worked to make this happen. That's what makes this place special.''