Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Alimony slump

Trouble seemed to follow Heinie Zimmerman around, with this May 22, 1915 Sporting Life tidbit about delinquent alimony payments comprising only one among many unpleasant incidents in an often ugly career. (One highlight: Zimmerman had a stretch in the summer of 1913 where he was ejected three times in five games).  Mrs. Zimmerman was Helene Chasar, who married him in 1912, when she was just seventeen. She gave birth to their daughter a year later.  By 1915, when she brought this lawsuit, she was reporting that Heinie had abandoned them, claiming that, though the Cubs paid him over $7,000 a year, his only financial contribution had been a five-dollar coin that he sent his daughter for Christmas. Their divorce was finalized in March of 1916.

"The Great Zim"

That following August, after nine-plus years as a Cub in Chicago (while there he'd distinguished himself with delightful antics like nearly blinding his teammate, Jimmy Sheckard, by throwing ammonia at his face) his team traded the strong-hitting Zimmerman (a New York native) to John McGraw's New York Giants. The next year the Giants went all the way to the World Series, where "The Great Zim" arguably botched a crucial rundown and drew the ire of Giants fans.

And then, on September 11th, 1919, Zimmerman approached Fred Toney, who was pitching for the Giants that evening, after the first inning, and suggested that delivering a less-than-stellar pitching performance would be "worth his while."  And he didn't stop there, soon bullying (with the help of cohort and incessant gambler Hal Chase) a number of Giants players with similar suggestions to throw games. McGraw suspended him, and a few months later the legendary manager and pitcher Toney would testify to Zim's various misdeeds in court. Zimmerman never played Major League Baseball again.

Heinie Zimmerman