Henry Zimmerman (February 9, 1887 – March 14, 1969), known as "Heinie" or "The Great Zim," was a professional baseball infielder. Zimmerman played in Major League Baseball for the Chicago Cubs and New York Giants from 1907 to 1919. During his playing career, Zimmerman was primarily a third baseman, although he also played extensively at second base. He was born and died in New York, New York.
In 1912, Zimmerman led the National League in batting and in home runs, but failed to win the triple crown, as Honus Wagner was thought to have led the league in RBIs, though recent research has suggested that in fact Zimmerman deserved the triple crown after all. He was also an important member of the 1908 Cubs, the last Cubs team to win the World Series. Zimmerman was #98 on the "Top 100 Cubs of All Time" list as compiled by the web site "Bleed Cubbie Blue".
Zimmerman was suspended from the New York Giants in 1919, along with his friend Hal Chase, for allegedly attempting to convince other players to fix games. Based on testimony by Giants manager John McGraw during the Black Sox Scandal hearings, Zimmerman and Chase were both indicted for bribery. Zimmerman denied McGraw's accusations, and neither he nor Chase was ever proven to be directly connected to the Black Sox, but based on a long-term pattern of corruption both were permanently banned from baseball by Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, Commissioner of Baseball. According to some historians, he had been informally banned after the Giants released him. Baseball statistician Bill James has suggested that the Giants' loss to the Chicago White Sox in the 1917 World Series may have been partial motivation for Zimmerman's suspension. Zimmerman batted .120 in the Series.
However, he is best known for an infamous rundown in the decisive game. In the fourth inning, the game was scoreless when Chicago's Eddie Collins was caught between third base and home plate. Catcher Bill Rariden ran up the line to start a rundown, expecting pitcher Rube Benton or first baseman Walter Holke to cover the plate. However, neither of them budged, and Collins blew past Rariden to score what turned out to be the Series-winning run (the White Sox won 4-2). With no one covering the plate, third baseman Zimmerman was forced to chase Collins, pawing helplessly in the air with the ball in a futile attempt to tag him. As pointed out by researcher Richard A. Smiley in SABR's 2006 edition of The National Pastime, Zimmerman was long blamed for losing the game, although McGraw blamed Benton and Holke for failing to cover the plate—a serious fundamental error in baseball. The play was actually quite close, as action photos show Zimmerman leaping over the sliding Collins. A quote often attributed to Zim, but actually invented by writer Ring Lardner some years later, was that when asked about the incident Zim replied, "Who the hell was I supposed to throw to, Klem (umpire Bill Klem, who was working the plate)?"
- James, Bill. The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. New York: The Free Press, 2001.