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Monday, October 13, 2003
Updated: October 14, 12:26 PM ET
Push comes to shove for Zim

By Jim Caple
Page 2 columnist

BOSTON -- One day after his fight with Pedro Martinez during Game 3 of the Red Sox-Yankees series, Don Zimmer choked back tears and told a room filled with reporters that he was embarrassed by what happened. "I'm embarrassed for the Yankees, the Red Sox, the fans, the umpires and my family," he said. "That's all I have to say, I'm sorry."

Don Zimmer
Zimmer sheds crocodile tears as he prepares for battle in Game 4.
At least, that's all he had to say to most reporters. He explained his feelings at length in an exclusive interview with Page 2 ...

"I said I'm sorry, but the only thing I'm sorry about is that I didn't knock that skinny little SOB's butt clear into the Charles River. And I would have done it, too, if he hadn't caught me off guard and tripped me. I was expecting him to put up his dukes and fight like a real man would do in that situation and instead he pulls some shifty little move you wouldn't expect from a 10-year-old girl or even Bill Lee.

"Besides, where does that SOB get off thinking he can throw at a batter's head? Listen, I was beaned when I was a kid in the Dodgers organization and let me tell you, it don't feel so good. I was out cold for three weeks and when I came to, I was still so confused that I thought I was Ethel Merman. I mean, I didn't dress up like a dame or anything, but I swear Carl Furillo was going to kill me if I sang 'There's No Business Like Show Business' one more time. I'm not ashamed to admit, though, I had a pretty damn good voice, especially in the Ebbets Field showers, which had real nice acoustics. Sinatra used to come down there to practice his new act on account he sounded so good in those showers.

"That's what I really miss. Good music. Why do they have to play all that damn rock and roll, hip and hop rap junk all the time now whenever a batter comes up to hit? You would think at least one guy would like to hear something nice once in awhile, like Rosemary Clooney or Nat King Cole. But no, it's always that M&M guy. And that 'Born in the USA' thing with Kevin Millar they show at Fenway Park. What the hell is that all about? That's supposed to be funny? I don't get it.

Don Zimmer
"Rocket, did I ever tell you about the time my head delayed a flight for six hours?"
"Anyway, back to when I got beaned. The doctors had to shave my head and drill three holes in my skull to relieve the pressure on my brain. That wasn't so bad but the worst part was they didn't stitch the holes up right away, neither. And let me tell you, the players weren't so polite about such things back then.

"Gil Hodges used to say my head looked just like a bowling ball, and then he would grip me with his fingers and bowl me into Carl Erskine and Clem Labine. He'd laugh and call it, 'Picking up the old 7-10 split.' But did I complain? No sir. If you were a rookie, you didn't say s--- in those days. If the veterans wanted to use your head for a bowling ball, well, you just smiled and hoped they remembered to wax the lanes.

"Try telling that to these kids today, though. They don't want to listen. They think baseball started with them. Like that creep Manny Ramirez. Now, why would a big leaguer wear his uniform like that? I haven't seen anything so bad since Bill Lee wore a white disco suit on the team charter. Awww, don't get me started on Bill Lee ...

Don Zimmer
Zimmer should have never taken this thing off.
"Anyway, you have to admit, I might have landed on my keister, but I was pretty impressive for an old man, huh? I might be 72 years old, but I can handle myself. The day I can't take a cocky 160-pound Red Sox pitcher is the day I hang up my jockstrap.

"I know I might look a little heavy, but trust me, that's all muscle. Feel my biceps. Go on, feel them! Rock hard, aren't they? And I didn't need any steroids or any crap like that to sculpt this body. No, sir. I built this the natural way, through old-fashioned hard work. Phil Rizzuto and me, we do Jazzercize every morning in Monument Park with Jean Afterman. Only don't use those fancy tennis shoes Jean has. We wear army boots. And when we're done with that, we do one-armed pushups and lift mayonnaise jars until our bodies ache, and we're covered in sweat.

"So all I'm saying is that Boston better not try to pull anymore crap if they know what's good for them. My hip is sore and my lumbago is acting up and my rheumatism is bad, but I'll be ready for them. This time I've got backup. Bob Sheppard."

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.