Notable doofus and former MLB catcher Gregg Zaun played his first two pro seasons with the Baltimore Orioles. Why mention that stint? While talking about ex-Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie (who was traded to Oakland last November) on a radio show this week, Zaun reminisced about his 1995 rookie season, and how the Iron Man hazed him.
Zaun, who believed that Lawrie wouldn't have struggled so much in Toronto if he was forced to respect the game, shared a couple of stories on The Fan 590 on Wednesday about how veterans—such as Ripken, catcher Chris Hoiles, and others—taught him to shut up by hazing him.
The first story happened at batting practice. Via AndrewStoeten.com:
Oh my goodness, I can tell you a prime example of what happened to me, myself. I grew up around the game — my uncle Rick played 24 years in the big leagues. He was a Baltimore Oriole; I grew up with the Orioles. Cal Ripken Jr.'s first roommate in the big leagues was my uncle — I used to go to lunch with the guy. Every time they came to Anaheim, I'd be in the car with Cal Jr. He gave me a glove. So when it came time to become a Baltimore Oriole, I went to the instructional league with Brady Anderson and Ben McDonald and Chris Hoiles — I was exposed to all these veteran guys who were veterans, but I was exposed to them when they were on their way to the big leagues. So when I got to the show I took liberties with these guys. And you know what? As much as they liked me, as much as they wanted me to be successful, they nipped it right in the bud, and they clipped my wings from day one.
I'll never forget it: I was out in the stretch circle, I played catch with Chris Hoiles every single day, and I lobbed the ball to him — and he was paying attention, but he pretended like he wasn't. He head-butted the ball and all of a sudden I had what was called "the posse" all over me. Cal Ripken, Ben McDonald, Brady Anderson, Chris Hoiles, all of the above. They beat me on my ribcage, physically abused me on my way to the training table. They taped me spread-eagle to the training table, they wrote "rookie" on my forehead with pink methylate, and they shoved a bucket of ice down my shorts. I missed the entire batting practice, and you know what? Phil Regan, the manager of the Baltimore Orioles, he did not care, because he knew that what those guys were doing was 'educating me.'
I had taken liberties with some of the veteran players. I had become a little bit too mouthy. And, I'm sure this comes as a shock to you guys — I was a little bit chatty; a little bit talkative as a young player, yeah. But I learned how to stifle myself. I learned how to show these veteran players respect and give them their room, and all the while close my mouth and be the guy who listened.
Note: Phil Regan managed the Orioles for one season and went 71-73. Phil Regan fucking sucked!
Zaun's other anecdote happened on a plane:
If I had a dollar for every time Cal worked me over, physically, I'd be a pretty wealthy guy. He still owes me a suit! He told me flat out, he said, 'You are never to come past this point into the back of the plane, under no circumstances.' So, I'm in my first suit that I paid for myself as a Major League player, feelin' real frisky, and Cal says, 'I need you to come here.' And all of a sudden I crossed over that imaginary barrier line. He tackled me, wrestled me to the ground. They had just got done eating a bunch of blue crabs in the back of the plane, so there was nothing but mud and Old Bay seasoning everywhere. He throws me to the ground and he tears my suit off of me, and I'm like, 'What are you doing?' And he goes, 'Remember when I said that under no circumstances do you come back here?' I'm like, 'Well you just told me to!' 'I said under no circumstances, and that includes when I ask you to come back here.'
So, these kind of things don't happen anymore, but they need to happen more often. And they need to happen with the backing of the management, all the way up to the front office, down to the field manager. You have to allow your veteran players to create the atmosphere that they want in the clubhouse, because at the end of the day, when guys get along and they know their pecking order, and they know the hierarchy, everything seems to work out just fine.
There's no other way that Zaun would have learned to respect his older teammates. Talking about it like adults? Nope. Punches to the ribcage help you learn to respect the game.