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Orem Owlz media director resigns, says his concerns over Caucasian Heritage Night ‘not taken seriously’

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Posted at 7:32 PM, Jun 20, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-20 23:21:39-04

OREM, Utah -- The former Media Director of the Orem Owlz issued a statement and spoke with FOX 13 News the day after he resigned, and the move comes after the minor-league baseball team came under scrutiny for a summer season calendar that included a "Caucasian Heritage Night" promotion planned to coincide with an August game.

Joey Zanaboni, the team's Media Director, resigned Friday, the same day the Owlz cancelled the upcoming event amid much scrutiny on social media.

Zanaboni says he arrived in Utah just two weeks ago, excited to call the play-by-play for Owlz games.

The statement he issued Saturday reads in part: "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."

The full statement can be read here, or by scrolling to the bottom of this story.

Zanaboni says the statement speaks for itself, and he tells FOX13 News that he looks forward to putting his experience with the Owlz behind him.

"It's been a very terrible, and very traumatizing experience," he said.

FOX 13 News contacted Owlz management Saturday. They said they were aware of Zanaboni's statement but declined to comment.

The full statement from Zanaboni, via Twitlonger, is reproduced below:

"Good morning,

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.

-Joseph Zanaboni"