Gregg Zaun
Gregg Zaun 2009.jpg
Zaun with the Baltimore Orioles in 2009
Catcher
Born: (1971-04-14) April 14, 1971 (age 51)
Glendale, California
Batted: Switch
Threw: Right
MLB debut
June 24, 1995, for the Baltimore Orioles
Last MLB appearance
May 20, 2010, for the Milwaukee Brewers
MLB statistics
Batting average.252
Home runs88
Runs batted in446
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Gregory Owen Zaun (/ˈzɔːn/; born April 14, 1971) is an American baseball analyst, public speaker and a former professional baseball catcher. He played for nine teams over 16 seasons in Major League Baseball from 1995 until 2010, winning a World Series Championship in 1997. From 2006 to 2017, he served as an on-air personality with Sportsnet in Canada.

Biography

Early life

Zaun, the nephew of former MLB catcher Rick Dempsey, was a high school teammate of Mark Loretta. Zaun and Loretta attended Saint Francis High School in La Cañada, California and graduated in 1989.[1] Zaun was recruited to play college baseball at USC, UCLA, Loyola Marymount and Oklahoma, but signed a letter of intent to play for Texas. However, he chose not to play for Texas upon learning that they had signed a junior college All-American catcher. Zaun also played for the United States national baseball team at the 1989 World Junior Baseball Championship in Canada.[2]

Professional career

Drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 17th round of the 1989 Major League Baseball draft, Zaun reached the majors with the Orioles in June 1995.[3][4] Used primarily as a back-up early in his career, he was traded to the Florida Marlins in 1996.[5] After winning a World Series with the Marlins in 1997, he became their starting catcher to finish out the 1998 season when Charles Johnson and then Mike Piazza were traded. He then moved to the Texas Rangers prior to the 1999 season. He has also played with the Kansas City Royals, Houston Astros, and Colorado Rockies. He signed as a free agent with the Blue Jays prior to the 2004 season. Valuable in the line-up as a switch-hitter, he set a career high in 2005 with 133 games.[6]

2006–2011

Prior to the 2006 season, the Blue Jays signed Bengie Molina as the everyday catcher, making Zaun the backup.[7] Zaun started 2006 on the disabled list, with Jason Phillips serving as Molina's backup during the first week of the year. Zaun hit a game-winning two-run homer off the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' Jason Childers in his return on April 8.[8] Molina's struggles against right-handed pitchers caused John Gibbons to platoon the two, with Molina generally starting against left-handed pitchers and Zaun playing against righties. On September 13, 2006, he hit home runs from both sides of the plate in the same game.[9] He was only the fourth Blue Jay in history to do this.

Because the Blue Jays actively pursued Rod Barajas of the Texas Rangers as the club's new starting catcher during the 2006 offseason, it was assumed that Zaun would be exploring free agency as signing Barajas would mean Zaun would be maintained as a backup. Meanwhile, negotiations between Zaun and the club deteriorated, as Zaun claimed that the Jays offered "slightly better than back-up money for playing every day".[10] Negotiations with Barajas went as far as an offer conditional on a routine physical, but eventually fell apart for undisclosed reasons.[11] After turning down a reported $6.5 million two-year offer from the Blue Jays a week earlier,[12] Zaun officially accepted a two-year, $7.25 million contract offer to return to the Blue Jays as their starting catcher on November 28, 2006. The new contract deal also included a third-year option, guaranteed based on appearances.[13] The signing came after Zaun was rumored to have been courted by the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, both in backup roles.[11]

Arguably his most famous play with the Jays was hitting a game-winning grand slam in the bottom of the 13th inning off of Tampa Bay Rays closer Troy Percival, on September 6, 2008, with two outs in the inning, wiping out the Rays, 7–4.[14] Zaun hit only the second game-winning grand slam in Jays history but it was the first that occurred in extra innings, and even more spectacular was that his team was losing at the time, due to an RBI single by Dioner Navarro to put the Rays up, 4–3, before the slam at the top of the 13th.

On January 22, 2009, Zaun signed a one-year deal with the Baltimore Orioles.[15]

Zaun was claimed off waivers by the Tampa Bay Rays GM Andrew Friedman in exchange for Rhyne Hughes on August 7, 2009.[16][17] On August 16, Zaun hit a pinch hit grand slam home run against his old team, the Blue Jays, in the eighth inning off Brandon League on a 3–2 fastball.[18] On November 12, 2009, Zaun was granted free agency.

On December 4, 2009, Zaun signed a one-year contract with the Milwaukee Brewers for $1.9 million.[19] After suffering a severe injury, Zaun's 2010 season—and, as it turned out, his MLB career, ended on May 20.[20] After the season, Milwaukee declined his contract option, and he became a free agent on November 2.[21]

In January, Zaun signed a minor league deal with the San Diego Padres, with an invitation to spring training.[22] However, noting that he still had not recovered from his previous injury enough to play regularly, he chose to retire on March 7, 2011.[23]

Mitchell Report

In 2007, Zaun was included in the Mitchell Report following a 20-month investigation into the use of performance-enhancing drugs by former Senator George Mitchell. In the report, Kirk Radomski claimed he sold Deca-Durabolin and Winstrol to Zaun in 2001, after a referral from Jason Grimsley. Radomski produced a cheque from Zaun for $500. Mitchell also explained that former Montreal Expos bullpen catcher Luis Perez claimed to have supplied Zaun with steroids in 2002. Zaun declined to be interviewed for the report.[24]

On February 15, 2008, Zaun responded in detail to the allegations made in the report after issuing a denial as soon as it came out.[25] Zaun vehemently denied taking performance-enhancing drugs, stating that he owed Grimsley $500 and that Grimsley re-wrote the cheque to purchase drugs for himself.[25] Zaun explained, "I can say, with 100% certainty, that the cheque was not to buy performance-enhancing drugs. It's obvious to me what parts of the cheque are my writing".[25]

Broadcasting career

Zaun (right) with fellow announcer Jamie Campbell in 2011.
Zaun (right) with fellow announcer Jamie Campbell in 2011.

Zaun started his broadcasting career after the Blue Jays closed out their 2006 season. Throughout the playoffs, Zaun would offer his thoughts on how the teams and players were doing, and how he thought they could improve.

After his retirement, on March 14, 2011, Zaun signed a two-year contract with Rogers Sportsnet to become their studio MLB analyst.[26] He also served as a part-time analyst on Sportsnet Radio Fan 590 and the Blue Jays Radio Network. As part of his duties he blogged on his website 'zauntourage.com'[27] (now defunct).

On May 10–11, 2011 Zaun filled in as the color commentator on the NESN broadcast of a Red Sox series against the Blue Jays when the normal broadcaster, Jerry Remy was ill.[28]

On November 30, 2017, Rogers Communications announced Zaun's employment had been terminated after an investigation into complaints of improper conduct from several female employees.[29] Zaun issued an apology in response to the allegations on December 4.[30]

Post-baseball activities

Since getting fired from Sportsnet, Zaun resides in the Cleveland area. He keeps a low profile, doing podcasts and blogs and conducting youth-baseball clinics in the area. He is training as a boxer and has participated in one charity boxing match.[31]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Gregg Zaun Stats". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved December 3, 2012.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. ^ Klein, Gary (August 9, 1990). "Zaun Catching On to Life as a Pro". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on May 31, 2009. Retrieved January 16, 2018.
  3. ^ "17th Round of the 1989 MLB June Amateur Draft". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved December 23, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ "Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles Box Score, June 24, 1995". Baseball-Reference.com. June 24, 1995. Retrieved December 23, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ "Zaun assigned to Marlins to complete deal". UPI. August 23, 1996. Retrieved December 23, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ "Gregg Zaun Stats". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved December 23, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ "Busy Jays cap offseason with deal for Molina". ESPN. Associated Press. February 6, 2006. Retrieved December 23, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ Bastian, Jordan (April 8, 2006). "Jays come back to defeat Rays". Toronto Blue Jays. MLB.com. Archived from the original on April 18, 2008. Retrieved December 23, 2021.
  9. ^ Bastian, Jordan (September 13, 2006). "Zaun's homers help Jays rout Mariners". Toronto Blue Jays. MLB.com. Archived from the original on April 18, 2008. Retrieved December 23, 2021.
  10. ^ "TheStar.com". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved September 29, 2007.[dead link]
  11. ^ a b Olney, Buster (November 27, 2006). "Blue Jays on verge of re-signing catcher Zaun". ESPN. Retrieved December 23, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. ^ "TheStar.com". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved September 29, 2007.[dead link]
  13. ^ Rich, Charles (November 29, 2006). "Zaun's new contract is for the birds". Glendale News-Press. Retrieved December 23, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. ^ Bastian, Jordan (September 6, 2008). "Zaun walk-off slam shocks Rays in 13th". Toronto Blue Jays. MLB.com. Archived from the original on September 9, 2008. Retrieved December 23, 2021.
  15. ^ "Orioles sign Gregg Zaun". Baltimore Orioles. MLB.com. January 22, 2009. Archived from the original on September 28, 2011. Retrieved September 28, 2011.
  16. ^ "Zaun back in the race after joining Rays". ESPN. August 8, 2009. Retrieved December 23, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. ^ Rancel, Tommy (August 15, 2009). "Rays Complete Gregg Zaun Trade; Send Rhyne Hughes to Baltimore". DRaysBay. SB Nation. Retrieved December 23, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ "Zaun steps up in pinch with game-winning GS to lift Rays past Jays in 8th". ESPN. Associated Press. August 16, 2009. Retrieved December 23, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  19. ^ "Zaun catches on with Brewers". CBC.ca. Associated Press. December 4, 2009. Retrieved December 23, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  20. ^ Rizk, Gabriel (May 28, 2010). "Bad news for Zaun". Glendale News-Press. Retrieved December 23, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  21. ^ Gleeman, Aaron (November 2, 2010). "Brewers decline 2011 options on Trevor Hoffman, Doug Davis, and Gregg Zaun". NBC Sports. Retrieved December 23, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  22. ^ Center, Bill (January 18, 2011). "Padres reach deals with five arbitration-eligible players". San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on January 21, 2011. Retrieved January 21, 2011.
  23. ^ Brock, Corey (March 7, 2011). "Veteran catcher Zaun opts for retirement". San Diego Padres. MLB.com. Archived from the original on March 8, 2011. Retrieved March 8, 2011.
  24. ^ Mitchell, pp. 179–81
  25. ^ a b c Lott, John (February 15, 2008). "Blue Jays' Zaun answers to Mitchell Report allegations for the first time". National Post. Retrieved October 16, 2017.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)[dead link]
  26. ^ "Zaun signs two-year deal with Sportsnet". Sportsnet. March 14, 2011. Retrieved December 23, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  27. ^ "zauntourage". Zauntorage. Archived from the original on April 23, 2012. Retrieved June 27, 2012.
  28. ^ Cole, Mike (May 10, 2011). "Gregg Zaun Filling In for Jerry Remy As Red Sox Open Series in Toronto Against Blue Jays". NESN. Retrieved June 27, 2012.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  29. ^ Davidi, Shi (November 30, 2017). "Sportsnet terminates Gregg Zaun after allegations of inappropriate behaviour". Sportsnet. Retrieved November 30, 2017.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  30. ^ "Gregg Zaun issues apology for inappropriate behaviour". Sportsnet. December 4, 2017. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
  31. ^ Buffery, Steve (January 18, 2019). "BUFFERY: Ex-Blue Jay Gregg Zaun opens up about 'humbling' experience". Toronto Sun. Retrieved June 28, 2019.