Zimmer was with Cleveland (American Association
) in 1887 when he became the first
catcher to play directly behind the batter on every play; previously, catchers would
move farther back of the plate with runners on base. The new style soon caught on.
For a decade beginning in 1889, Zimmer caught for the National League Cleveland Spiders
becoming the finest defensive catcher of his day; he repeatedly led the NL in putouts,
assists, and double plays. In 1895 he batted a career-high .340. He was dealt to
Louisville in mid-1899, and in January of 1900 was part of the package of players
that Barney Dreyfuss
lifted from Louisville to bolster the Pittsburgh Pirates
the NL went from 12 teams to 8. Waived in 1903, he was picked up by the Phillies
as player-manager. He hit .220 and brought the Phillies in seventh.