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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Don Zimmer, a popular fixture in professional baseball for 66 years as a manager, player, coach and executive, has become the first person in the Tampa Bay Rays‘ Hall of Fame.

Zimmer was honored in a ceremony before Sunday’s game against the Detroit Tigers. He spent his last 11 years in the game, his longest stint with one team, as a Rays senior adviser from 2004 until his death in June 2014 at age 83.

Zimmer’s wife “Soot,” whom he married at home plate during a minor league game in 1951, and his son Tom, a retired San Francisco Giants scout, were among family members in attendance.

“It was a great honor … the Rays have been super,” Soot Zimmer said. “I marvel when I think of the 66 years he was in the game, and he would come down every game and put the uniform on even when he a senior adviser. I can’t imagine putting that uniform on every day for all those years. To me, that was something.”

A ceremonial first pitch was thrown by Don Zimmer’s great-grandson, 7-year-old Carter Zimmer, to Tom Zimmer.

“This probably extended his life at least four or five years,” an emotional Tim Zimmer said of his father’s time with the Rays. “It was a life-extender for him to be here. “

The formation of the Hall of Fame is part of the Rays’ 25th anniversary season. Wade Boggs and Carl Crawford will be inducted in ceremonies later this year.

Zimmer’s No. 66 jersey was retired by the Rays in 2015.

Zimmer started out as a minor league infielder in 1949. Easily recognizable for the big chaw that always seemed to be in his cheek, he went to enjoy one of the longest-lasting careers in baseball history.

“Don Zimmer, you knew the face, you knew the presence, the knowledge, the intelligence,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “Been around the game for so many years, and I think the Rays were incredibly fortunate to have him.”

Zimmer played alongside Jackie Robinson for the only Brooklyn Dodgers team to win the World Series (in 1955), was on the field with the original New York Mets, nearly managed the Boston Red Sox to a championship in the 1970s and was Joe Torre’s right-hand man as the bench coach with the New York Yankees‘ most recent dynasty.

“Don was true legend in the game,” Tampa Bay principal owner Stu Sternberg said. “His contributions to the organization were invaluable. They helped fuel our success and continue to be felt even to this day.”

Zimmer batted .235 in his big league career, but numbers could never define all that he meant to the game. He had tremendous success — earning six World Series rings as player, coach and manager and going to the postseason 19 times.

Zimmer would often sum up his time in baseball this way: “A pretty good career for a .235 hitter.”

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Don Zimmer becomes first member of Rays’ Hall of Fame