Henry “Heinie” Zimmerman
Born: February 9, 1887 - New York, NY
Died: March 14, 1969 - New York, NY
Career BA: .295
Chicago Cubs NL (1907–1916)
New York Giants NL (1916–1919)
Heinie Zimmerman could have gone down in baseball annals as one of the great third baseman, one that certainly could have been considered for entrance into the Hall of Fame. Instead, he represents everything that a player should not be. “The Great Zim,” as he was known during his days as an impact player, eventually wasted what could have been a truly great career.
In 1912, Zimmerman took over as starting third baseman for the Cubs after the sudden death of Jimmy Doyle from appendicitis. That proved to be a watershed year for Zim as he led the league with his .372 batting average, 207 hits, .571 slugging percentage, 14 home runs, and in several other categories. Although he had a total of three .300 seasons, and played on the 1907 and 1908 World Series Championship teams, Zimmerman was always surrounded by controversy. The suspicion that he threw games and took bribes saddled him for his entire career, until he was finally banned for life in 1921 by Commissioner of Baseball Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis.
There are many examples of indiscretion on the part of Zimmerman, including purposely muffing a rundown in the decisive game of the 1917 World Series, although some take issue with that allegation. Then, there is the fact that he batted .120 in that same Series. Zimmerman was also indirectly implicated in the 1919 Black Sox Scandal. The fatal flaw that contributed to his final demise was that Zimmerman had a problem holding onto money. He was always broke because of his penchant for spending money on extravagant things. His association with the likes of Hal Chase during his playing days and notorious gangster Dutch Schultz outside of the lines did not help his reputation either. All in all “The Great Zim” turned out to be a major black eye for the game. He later operated a mob-connected speakeasy, and worked as a plumber and steamfitter.
– Tom and Ellen Zappala, The Cracker Jack Collection: Baseball's Prized Players. For more information on their book and/or to order a copy at a special PSA discount, visit http://crackerjackplayers.com/PSA_order.html