He had the jowls of Dizzy Gillespie, the chins of Alfred Hitchcock and the forearms of Olive Oyl's favorite sailor man. For most of his 83 years, he had a haircut that required minimum maintenance and a quick, disarming smile that significantly widened his face and belied his sense of purpose. Well before his time came, he had developed a silhouette like no other in the game. If nothing else, Don Zimmer was distinctive, a ball of distinction, you might say -- no corners, no angles, no edges. So round he almost was spherical.

Zimmer, a baseball icon for the past six decades, passed away on Wednesday. He was 83.

He was likened to Popeye, Jabba The Hutt and even a gerbil, and he happily acknowledged he never had been mistaken for Cary Grant or one of the hunky James Bonds actors.

The priceless malapropism of the late Giants and Mets manager Wes Westrum seemingly applied more to Zim than to anyone else in the game. "When they made him," Westrum's quote went, "they threw away the molding."

Indeed. "So many things about him are different," Joe Torre once said about his late-in-life sidekick and friend. "And when you put all the differences together in one body, you've got someone a little odd ... and very special."

Zimmer's distinctions were more than superficial, though. No one else squeezed with the bases loaded. No one else had a button-down skull. Who else in the game could laugh so readily at himself? The wife of what other baseball personality was named Soot? And who else played with the only Brooklyn team to win a World Series as well as Casey's bumbling Mets of 1962, endured the Boston Massacre, witnessed the grandeur of the '98 Yankees and managed the game's two most tortured franchises?

His distinctions live on, and now that he is gone, form a baseball legend more entertaining than most. Zim, Zimmy, Zip, Popeye or however you knew him left us Wednesday, seemingly reducing the number of characters in the game by more than one. A baseball lifer, he had the best parts of Stengel, Will Rogers, John Madden, Hawkeye Pierce and everybody's tickle-me grandpa. And all the while he was a serious baseball man, wearing the caps -- extra-large, of course -- of 18 franchises, 13 in the big leagues, and one army helmet in his six decades in the game.

Mostly, Donald William Zimmer was a delightful sort who defied comparison and became too renowned in later life to remain what he had been as a player, an everyman. He produced a long, memorable resume in the game he loved, though he was neither an accomplished player nor a manager of great success. He was merely Zim.