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Laden: "I believed in Don Zimmer"

June 5, 2014 Updated: June 5, 2014 at 10:33 am
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Colorado Rockies bench coach Don Zimmer takes aim as he hits grounders to infielders during spring training in Tucson, Ariz., Wednesday, Feb. 22, 1995.(AP Photo/Ed Andrieski) < 0 PICTURE_OK HEADER_OK 9 9 > ORG XMIT: XTC102

This is a true story and one of my proudest moments as a Chicago Cubs fan.

From 1986-1988, veteran left-handed relief pitcher Frank DiPino pitched for the Cubs. In 1989, DiPino went to pitch for the St. Louis Cardinals. At the start of that 1989 season, DiPino declared that, "as long as Don Zimmer is their manager, the Cubs will never win a division title."

That same year, on Sept. 26, 1989, the Cubs -- under manager Don Zimmer -- won what was then the National League's Eastern Division title. The next day, on Sept. 27, 1989, the Cardinals were in Pittsburgh to play the Pirates.

The sports department at The Gazette in Colorado Springs, where I worked then and work now, had copies of special reference books that contained all sorts of information for use by the media. Those books included information on which hotels teams stay at while traveling on the road.

I grabbed one of the books, found out where the Cardinals were staying in Pittsburgh, and made a phone call to the hotel. "Frank DiPino's room, please." "OK, we'll connect you." And then, the conversation went like this:

DiPino: "Hello."
Me: "Is this Frank DiPino?"
DiPino: "Yes."
Me (at the top of my lungs): "CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN!"
DiPino: Click.

I'm sure glad I made that call. Rest in peace, Don Zimmer.

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