Inappropriate behaviour scandals that derailed the careers of many high-profile men in the media, entertainment and political worlds in recent weeks spread to the Canadian sports-media world on Thursday when baseball analyst Gregg Zaun was fired by Sportsnet.
The former Toronto Blue Jays catcher, who became a high-profile analyst on the Sportsnet baseball broadcasts, was fired for "inappropriate behaviour" in the workplace because of complaints "from multiple female employees," according to a statement from Rogers Media president Rick Brace.
While Zaun was a figure of controversy from time to time, given his frank views on the work habits of today's baseball players and how the game is played, his firing came as a surprise to some of his colleagues. No one from Sportsnet was willing to comment given the serious and shocking nature of Zaun's departure.
"There is nothing I can say," said Jamie Campbell, Zaun's partner on his Sportsnet broadcasts.
Brace said Zaun, 46, was fired on Thursday after several women who worked at Sportsnet complained about his behaviour to management. There were no allegations of physical or sexual assault, Sportsnet.ca reported.
"This week, we received complaints from multiple female employees at Sportsnet regarding inappropriate behaviour by Gregg Zaun in the workplace," Brace's statement said. "After investigating the matter, we decided to terminate his contract, effective immediately. This type of behaviour completely contradicts our standards and our core values. We believe in a professional workplace where all employees feel comfortable and respected. We are grateful to our employees who spoke with us and we will take every measure to protect their privacy."
The former catcher played for nine teams over a 16-year major-league career, including five years in Toronto from 2004-08. He won a World Series championship with the Florida Marlins in 1997. He is the nephew of long-time Baltimore Orioles catcher Rick Dempsey.
Zaun started with Sportsnet on a part-time basis as the Blue Jays finished up their season in 2006. His frank views made Zaun such a popular figure he signed on with the network full time when he retired in March, 2011.
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 and Today Show host Matt Lauer among those accused.
Zaun is no stranger to controversy, but until now that usually meant his criticism of Jays and other baseball players. But the fellow who calls himself the "Manalyst" did find himself in a Twitter storm in 2012 when he posted a disparaging comment about women.
The broadcaster, who likely was paid well into six figures, developed a reputation as baseball's Don Cherry, thanks to his outspoken views and his wardrobe, which was distinctive, although not as outlandish as Cherry's.
In 2014, Zaun told The Globe and Mail he was not concerned if players found his criticism too harsh. "I really don't care what they think. If they're a mature ballplayer, they'll understand what my job is," he said.
The only other major controversy to involve Zaun was in Major League Baseball's performance-enhancing drugs scandal. His name was mentioned in the Mitchell Report – the result of former U.S. Senator George J. Mitchell's 20-month investigation into performance-enhancing drug use in MLB that was released in 2007.
After the report came out, Zaun said he never violated MLB's drug policy or failed any drug tests.
With a report from The Canadian Press