After a lengthy 16 year major league career catcher Gregg Zaun has retired. The former Oriole followed in the footsteps of his uncle, 1983 World Series MVP Rick Dempsey and became a major league catcher.
The Orioles drafted Zaun in the 17th round of the 1989 draft. He played for multiple teams in the Baltimore farm system from 1990-1995 including Bluefield, Frederick, and Bowie. I remember personally watching Zaun catch for Bowie in 1993.
My cousin was a minor league prospect pitcher and Zaun was his catcher. I can remember Zaun being a pretty good hitter as he carried a .306 batting average that year in Bowie, which was his highest minor league average of any stint where he played at least a month.
Zaun’s great defensive work and decent hitting ability gave him the opportunity to make his major league debut for the Orioles on June 24th 1995. He had a brief 90 game stint spanning two seasons before moving on to Florida. From there he played for Texas, Kansas City, Houston, Colorado, and Toronto before returning to the Orioles for most of the 2009 season.
His leadership and veteran presence was instrumental in mentoring a young Matt Wieters for the beginning of his major league career. As a huge Matt Wieters fan I am grateful that a respected veteran catcher with the lineage of Rick Dempsey was there to improve Wieters’ game calling abilities.
Shortly after Wieters took over the everyday duties Zaun was traded to Tampa Bay. In 2010, his last season, Zaun was with Milwaukee but needed right shoulder surgery. He attempted to play another year in 2011 as he was in camp with the San Diego Padres on a minor league deal, but the shoulder injury has proved to be too much and has forced retirement.
But there is much to be proud of from a 16 year major league career that totaled 1,232 games. He finished with a career average of .252 (which is .252 higher than any of us), and hit 88 HR’s with 446 RBI and 23 SB. He peaked in 2006 with Toronto where he hit .272 with 12 HR in only 280 at bats. In comparison, those are better numbers than Matt Wieters (a future hall of famer) put up in his first full season. Congrats to Greg Zaun on a long and successful major league career. Maybe MASN broadcasting is in his blood?