Former Orem Owlz media director Joey Zanaboni says he stepped down after only two weeks on the job due to the team’s refusal to reconsider “Caucasian Heritage Night”—only to see the team eventually relent after public scorn and mockery.
Zanaboni, who started work earlier this month after moving to Utah from St. Louis, says he immediately raised objections to the promotion—warning it would cause public outcry. He says the team, a Los Angeles Angels rookie league affiliate, ignored him:
I can confirm that I have resigned from the Orem Owlz. The story of my resignation has appeared on Twitter and in the Salt Lake Tribune, and I feel the need to clarify what happened so that rumor and speculation do not abound. This is my personal statement regarding the resignation.
I arrived in Orem from St. Louis on June 6th, 2015 to work with the Owlz as the play by play announcer and media director. Up until this point, my communication with the organization was limited, and I had very little knowledge of the front office’s plans for the 2015 season. “Caucasian Heritage Night” was a promotion that was conceived and put on the schedule prior to my time with the club, and I was unaware of it before I arrived in Orem.
After learning of the promotion during my first week, I raised serious concerns about it with multiple members of the front office, both verbally and via email. I registered my disagreement with carrying out such a promotion. I also warned that this event - no matter the intention of it - would cause public backlash.
My concerns were not taken seriously, and my advice went unheeded.
I raised these concerns in the Owlz office in a professional manner and always did my best to treat front office staff with respect when discussing it. In keeping with this, I will not be providing names or information on any specific members of the Owlz front office who supported this event and ensured that it got on the official promo calendar. Those individuals can take credit for that if they so desire.
I informed the front office and our field manager of my decision to resign at approximately 5 pm MT on June 19th, and I departed after ensuring that the Owlz would get back their broadcast equipment, which I had brought with me to Lindquist Field to do the play by play for the Owlz game against the Raptors. I want to make clear that I did not write the press release titled “Owlz Cancel Event” and, during the day of June 19, as the world learned of this promotion, I was not involved in helping any person or persons draw up that release.
I am deeply disturbed by this situation. It has been very taxing on me emotionally. My dream has been to call baseball as part of an MLB franchise, and I am grateful that I was part of the Angels organization - even if my time in the system was extremely limited. I felt my knowledge and enthusiasm for the game would be a great asset to the Owlz players and coaches, and that my vivid descriptions of the action would be a great joy to the fans. I did not want a decision made by the organization’s front office without my support to affect the work that I am passionate about but, in the end, the matter is simple: I have made the choice to no longer be part of the Orem Owlz and will not be involved with them going forward.
Zanaboni was also hired as the team’s play-by-play announcer; as he makes clear in that statement, he won’t be doing that either.