Penthouse magazine said in an article published Thursday that Don Zimmer bet $3,000 to $5,000 weekly on football and basketball games while he was manager of the Chicago Cubs.
Author Jerome Tuccille said Zimmer admitted that baseball officials questioned him about gambling, but Zimmer insisted that he only bet legally, on dog races.
“Major league baseball spoke to me about gambling, asked me all sorts of questions,” Zimmer was quoted as saying in the story. “But I told them I never gambled illegally. I just go to the dog track and gamble on the greyhounds.”
Tuccille said major league baseball was informed two years ago that Zimmer was acquainted with gamblers and was a regular bettor, and launched an investigation.
Zimmer called ESPN Thursday evening. Anchor Charley Steiner, on the air, said: “Just moments before we went on the air tonight, Don Zimmer called the ESPN SportsCenter newsroom and absolutely, categorically denied two-thirds of the Penthouse story as a bold-faced lie.
“I asked him point-blank if he had ever bet on football and basketball. He said, ‘I met with Fay Vincent’ in 1990 and as far as he (Zimmer) is concerned, the case was closed.”