Gregg Zaun. (Canadian Press photo)

Gregg Zaun apologizes after being fired for inappropriate comments

Former broadcaster was fired after Sportsnet said it received complaints from female employees

Fired Sportsnet baseball analyst Gregg Zaun was “blindsided and emotionally gutted” by recent allegations of inappropriate comments toward female colleagues, saying in a statement Monday that he “naively” believed his language was not offensive.

In an “absolute apology” issued through his Toronto-based lawyer Stuart Ducoffe, the former Blue Jays catcher said he was sorry “for any harm or distress which may have been caused by my comments with any female colleagues over the recent past.

“It has never been my intention to give offence to anyone,” he said.

Zaun was fired as an MLB studio analyst on Thursday after multiple female Sportsnet employees complained about his inappropriate behaviour in the workplace.

“After investigating the matter, we decided to terminate his contract, effective immediately,” said Rick Brace, president of Rogers Media, in a statement. “This type of behaviour completely contradicts our standards and our core values.”

Monday’s statement was Zaun’s first public response to the allegations.

“I have done a lot of soul searching over the last few days and know that my ignorance of the harm caused by my language does not excuse it — for which I accept responsibility,” he said. “While I am well recognized for my unfiltered criticism of others within the sports world, which has made many critics and enemies — in ignorance I allowed a similar attitude to influence all aspects of my lifestyle, causing distress for female colleagues.”

Zaun’s dismissal comes at a time when allegations of sexual harassment are widespread in the film industry, politics and the newsroom with prominent figures such as producer Harvey Weinstein, broadcaster Charlie Rose and “Today” show host Matt Lauer among those accused.

According Sportsnet.ca, there were no allegations of physical or sexual assault against Zaun.

Two Sportsnet employees who spoke with The Canadian Press on Friday painted a picture of an offensive workplace environment where sexist comments are tolerated and women are afraid to speak up.

“Zaun’s on-air brand and image was based around aggressive masculinity so when he wore (undershirts) around the office and made rude sexual comments directly to women, or in close proximity of women, with the clear intention of making us uncomfortable, it was sort of implied: that’s who he was, deal with it,” said one employee, who did not want to be identified for fear of reprisals at work.

“I think he was able to get away with this for so long because as a woman at Sportsnet, you certainly didn’t feel empowered to report the inappropriate behaviour of a former professional athlete nicknamed ‘The Manalyst,’ especially to an all-male senior management team.”

Zaun was known for his no-holds-barred criticism of players and the Blue Jays overall.

Asked about the allegations made by the two women, Brace said via a statement: “It’s really important to us that our employees feel comfortable sharing their feedback openly and honestly. We are truly committed to an open and transparent workplace where everyone feels respected. We encourage anyone with concerns to raise them with us.”

In his statement, Zaun said whenever it was brought to his attention that he had demonstrated poor judgement or offending somebody with his language, he sought to change his behaviour.

“My remorse in the activities drawn to my attention by Rogers this week affecting unnamed individuals, is that it was never raised before and I naively believed that my language and behaviour were not considered offensive,” he said. “I regret my blindness to the impact of my actions that I would have corrected at the time, rather than allowing the harm felt to continue to fester.”

Zaun began a part-time broadcasting career with Sportsnet following the 2006 season. He initially signed a two-year deal as a MLB studio analyst with Sportsnet in 2011 and continued working with the network until his termination.

The 46-year-old played 16 major league seasons, including five years in Toronto from 2004-2008. He captured a World Series with the Florida Marlins in 1997.

The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Stranded B.C. trucker writes final wishes before being rescued 3 days later

‘I was just praying someone would come along’

Column: using waste forest products to reduce carbon emissions

The potential for bioenergy production from the forestry industry

Construction zone – Quesnel to see new housing and public projects get underway in 2019

Mayor outlines the many construction projects slated to begin in the next 12 months

Editorial: Shop locally this Christmas, it’s part of what community is all about

There are a plethora of awesome gift ideas from local businesses

Xeni Gwet’in First Nation and conservation officers collaborate on enforcement

Deal will see COS enforce communal restrictions on harvesting of cow moose

UPDATE: B.C. businesses evacuated due to emailed bomb threat, also received in U.S.

Penticton and Comox Valley businesses evacuated Thursday morning

$12K awarded to atheist family who oppose Christmas, Hanukkah in B.C. classroom

Gary Mangel,May Yasue said holidays, Remembrance Day and Valentine’s Day not appropriate in preschool

Coach accused of sexual assault says apology letter was misinterpreted

Dave Brubaker has pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual assault and one count of invitation to sexual touching

Give the gift of nature this holiday season

Please don’t be mad, but I bought you a moose

Aboriginal poet faces backlash for calling out NHL-themed totem poles

Rebecca Thomas says she received backlash for asking a drugstore chain to remove NHL merchandise

No plans yet for free WiFi on BC Transit buses

BC Transit says they are monitoring the roll-out of free WiFi on Translink vehicles

Some Kotex tampons recalled in Canada and U.S.

In some cases, tampon users sought medical attention “to remove tampon pieces left in the body.”

Sex-assault squad investigated eight incidents at Toronto all-boys’ school

The interim president of a Roman Catholic all-boys school rocked by student-on-student abuse allegations said the football program was cancelled for next year.

Coal power in Canada must disappear by the end of 2029, new regulations say

Canada has significantly cut its dependence on coal largely due to the closure of all coal plants in Ontario.

Most Read