Henry Zimmerman was born February 9th, 1887 in the Bronx, New York. By the age of 14 he was working as a plumbers assistant to help his family earn money. He became a star player on the sand lots of New York City, before signing a contract with the Chicago Cubs in 1906.
Zimmerman became known as a dim witted eccentric in the baseball world & was also known for erratic play, as well as his erratic behavior. Once during a five game stretch in 1913, the umpire hating Zimmerman, was thrown out of three different games. He was also known as "the Great Zim".
After four years as a reserve infielder, he became the Cubs main second baseman in 1911, taking over for the injured Johnny Evers. Zimmerman made it to two World Series with the Cubs, winning the 1907 Series over the Detroit Tigers. In 1910 he got into five games, driving in two runs in the loss to the Philadelphia A's. He hit 17 triples (4th in the league) batted .307 (9th in the league) & drove in 85 runs (9th in the league).
In 1912 he moved over as the third baseman & had a big year, coming in sixth in the MVP voting. He originally won the NL Triple Crown, but through the years, it was discovered his RBI totals were wrong & he came in third in the league. He won the batting title, hitting .372, led the league in hits (207) doubles (41) HRs (14) & slugging (.571%).
Zimmerman spent ten seasons with the Cubs, hitting over .300 once more (1913) & won an RBI title that remained intact through history in 1916, driving in 83 runs. During those Cub years he was in the top ten in the league's batting race four times. He would also be in the top ten in doubles, triples, HRs, RBIs, hits & total bases many times.
In 1916 he was traded to the New York Giants for Larry Doyle, Herb Hunter & Merwin Jacobson. He has been voted #98 on the All Time 100 Greatest Cubs list.
His career in New York began well, in 40 games of the 1916 season he batted .272 with 19 RBIs. In 1917 he won another RBI title, driving in 102 runs. He batted .297 (7th best in the NL) with five HRs 22 doubles, nine triples & 174 hits (4th in the NL). At third base he continued his fine fielding, leading the league in assists (349), was second in games played (149) & fourth in fielding (.947) as well as put outs (148). That year the Giants won the NL Pennant & played the Chicago White Sox in the World Series.
Post Season: Zimmerman is infamous for a rundown play in the final game decisive Game #6. The game was scoreless in the 4th inning, when Chicago's Eddie Collins got caught in a run down between third & home plate. The catcher Bill Rariden, ran up the line starting the run down play. Unfortunately neither the pitcher (Rube Benton) nor the first baseman (Walter Holke) went to cover the plate.
Zimmerman chased Collins to the plate with his arm motioning to throw, but no one was covering the plate to throw to. Collins scored what turned out to be the game & series' winning run. Zimmerman was blamed for losing the game for years, but even Giants manager John McGraw blamed Benton & Holke who made the mental error not covering home.
Years later it was said that Zim commented on the play, saying " who the hell was I suppose to throw to, the umpire Bill Klem?" Others say, a New York sports writer made up the quote.
Overall in the World Series, Zim batted just .120 with a triple going 3-25.
He played for the Giants for two more years, batting career low .255 in 1919.
Drama: That same year- 1919, Zimmerman along with his friend, Hal Chase was banned from baseball for attempting to fix games. This all came down during the 1919 Chicago Black Sox scandal. Giants Manager John McGraw testified in court to Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis & both were indicted for bribery.
The two denied the accusations but based on past corruption, they were banned from the game. The Giants had previously released Zim, mostly due to the events of the 1917 World Series.
In his 13 year career he batted .295 with 58 HRs 275 doubles 105 triples (143rd all time) 695 runs scored 175 stolen bases 432 RBIs & a .331 on base % in 1456 games played.
At second base he played 945 games, at third base he played 327 games, where he made 231 errors (59th most all time at the position). At third he is in the top 100 all time in assists & put outs. He also played at short (63 games) first base (53 games) & in the outfield (13 games).