Monday, April 6, 2015

Rays retire Zimmer's No. 66 in Opening Day tribute

A tribute to Don Zimmer highlighted the Opening Day festivities Monday prior to the Rays-Orioles contest at Tropicana Field.
After the introduction of both teams -- which saw coach Rocco Baldelli, new manager Kevin Cash, third baseman Evan Longoria and center fielder Kevin Kiermaier draw the biggest ovations -- actress and singer Cozi Zuehlsdorff sang the national anthem with a huge American flag spread across the outfield.
A film tribute to "Zim" followed before the tribute culminated with Zimmer's son, Tom, unveiling his father's No. 66, which was retired by the Rays. The number is displayed in left-center field, along with Wade Boggs' No. 12 and Jackie Robinson's No. 42.
Zimmer died on June 4, 2014, after 11 years with the Rays, the most time he spent with one organization. He was in uniform for 55 Major League Opening Days, and it was the first Opening Day without Zimmer since 1970.
Once the tribute to Zimmer concluded, Vince Naimoli, the franchise's original managing general partner, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Baldelli.
Naimoli is most remembered for bringing Major League Baseball to the area, which came to fruition with the awarding of the franchise on May 9, 1995.
Naimoli, 77, was born in Paterson, N.J., and resides in Tampa.

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