Cubs: Joe Maddon invites Don Zimmer's widow to Wrigley banner-raising ceremony

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MILWAUKEE – Joe Maddon's people skills and sense of baseball history led him to invite Don Zimmer's widow, Soot, to Monday night's home opener at Wrigley Field, where the Cubs will raise their 2016 World Series banner. 

This is personal for Maddon, who managed the Tampa Bay Rays while Zimmer worked as a senior adviser for the organization. Zimmer managed the Cubs for three-plus seasons – including the 1989 team that won 93 games – and died in 2014 at the age of 83. 

"I don't think Soot's missed an Opening Day," Maddon said before Saturday's game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. "I don't know how many years it's been – she's not missed an Opening Day. So I did not want it to happen this year. 

"I left her a phone message. We kept playing phone tag. I finally got her yesterday. And I said: 'Zimm's going to be there, so you might as well be there, too.' So she conceded. 

"It's just appropriate that she's going to be at another Opening Day. And to be there for this one – I thought it was necessary, based on not only her affiliation with the Cubs, but (my connection) with their family."

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Beau Zimmer, Don's grandson and a TV reporter with a CBS affiliate in Tampa, will accompany Soot for what should be an unforgettable event for generations of Cubs fans. 

"Rings are wonderful, but I love banner raisings," Maddon said. "That's symbolically there all the time. Every time a kid shows up at the ballpark, he sees that banner. And hopefully we're going to be able to add more."

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