Jack Zimmerman put together a great senior year with the Yellowjackets’ baseball team this spring and then followed it up with an even better summer season for East Haven’s Senior Legion baseball squad.
Jack was an outfielder at the high school, but he can play just about every position, and so Jack served a bigger role with the 89ers. Jack saw a lot of time at shortstop while filling in for an injured teammate, and he played so well that Head Coach John Longley decided to keep him there.
“I was more of a utility guy. In the middle of the season, we needed a shortstop, and I performed well there, so coach kept me there. I can play any position. For the 89ers, I played everywhere besides catcher,” Jack says. “In the first game [at shortstop], I made 11 outs and helped turn three double plays. That game boosted my confidence and my teammates’ confidence in me. My pitchers felt great with me behind them, which built a stronger team and stronger relationships. That’s how you win.”
Jack takes great pride in being a versatile player. He knows that having a diversified skill set makes him a more valuable asset to his teams.
“It’s pretty important to me. I don’t want to be set to one position,” says Jack. “I’m happy [my coaches] let me try other things and test me. It showcased the hard work I showed to be capable to play other positions and be versatile.”
Coach Longley was impressed with how Jack handled the shortstop position, in addition to how he earned the nod to bat leadoff for the 89ers this season.
“For him to step up, it was good to see. He played so well that I didn’t take him out, because I felt comfortable with him there. He played great,” says Longley. “At the beginning of the year, I tried multiple people at leadoff. He took pitches, was aggressive, and could bunt for a base hit.”
Jack says this wasn’t the first time that he’s batted leadoff. As a result, he was prepared to do what it took to succeed at that all-important spot in the lineup.
“I used to bat leadoff. I’m comfortable there. I like helping my teammates out with letting them know what the pitcher is throwing. If I get a hit, I feel like I fire people up. It’s important to start the game like that, and I love being that guy for my team,” he says. “When I go to the plate, I always have to have a plan and a purpose. I look for my pitch and, if I don’t get it, I keep taking until I do. The biggest thing I learned from Coach Longley was with a two-strike count, I have to choke up. I did that pretty well this season and rarely struck out. I put the ball in play and forced the other team to make a play on me to put more pressure on them.”
Jack has a great understanding of his role as a leadoff hitter. He realizes how important it is for him to set the tone by getting on base, so one of his teammates can drive him home.
“I put the ball in play a lot and have a lot of speed. I steal bases for my team to put pressure on,” says Jack. “When on base, getting a decent-sized lead slows down a pitcher’s movement and gets the two and three hitters better pitches to hit.”
While he wasn’t one of the Yellowjackets’ captains, Jack still saw his leadership skills flourish during his senior season with the high school team. Jack knew when the time was right to step up and be a leader for the Easties.
“I know I wasn’t a captain, but it wasn’t important to me,” Jack says. “Everyone is human, and sometimes our captains would get frustrated. It was nice to be the guy to step up when your captains are down. It was good being that kind of guy.”
The experience of playing baseball will always mean a lot to Jack. Although his career is most likely finished, Jack knows that he’s learned a lot from participating in America’s pastime.
“A big part of it, you learn how to bounce back. You can never give up, because anything can happen,” says Jack. “I love playing this sport. It’s definitely meant a lot to me. It’s taught me how to build relationships, be a leader, and overcome difficulties in life.”