The crowning moment of Zaun’s career came in 1997, when he helped the Florida Marlins win the World Series. Or so he thought.
Zaun, whose uncle, Rick Dempsey, was the most valuable player in the 1983 World Series, was a reserve catcher behind All-Star Charles Johnson. He appeared in four postseason games, including two in the World Series against the Cleveland Indians.
Zaun suddenly found himself behind the plate for the ninth, 10th and 11th innings of the seventh game catching Robb Nen and Jay Powell. Florida went on to win its first championship on a two-out single with the bases loaded by Edgar Renteria.
“I was on the bench for 99% of the World Series,” said Zaun, who has also played for the Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals, Houston Astros and Colorado Rockies. “It was the most miserable month of my life because I hadn’t caught in something like two or three weeks.
“I didn’t sleep and I was stressed out. It’s harder to watch then play. Then I finally get into the seventh game of the World Series and it was such a relief to win.
“I came home for the holidays and somebody popped the video in of the World Series. I started crying. I had had so much emotion pent up during that time, and it all came out of me watching the video. I wear that championship ring all of the time because I know I was a part of it.”
Ten years later, Zaun has seen his career expand.
Being a starting catcher with plate-blocking ability for a Major League team — and competing in more than 1,000 contests — is proof enough.