Lake County Fielders announcer quits on air
Lake County Fielders radio announcer Qumar Zaman provided more than totals and highlights following the team's recent game against the Chico Outlaws.
Zaman quit while wrapping up the broadcast on Waukegan's WKRS-AM last Friday, claiming the Fielders had not paid him all he was owed since the season began in May. The Fielders deny the accusation.
It's just the latest twist for the second-year minor league baseball team that plays at a temporary diamond at Route 173 and Green Bay Road in Zion.
Manager Tim Johnson quit via email July 9 after claiming he hadn't been paid. Hitting coach Pete LaCock served as interim manager that night, using pitchers as position players and bolting following the game against the Yuma Scorpions.
Fielders spokesman Bernie DiMeo said Tuesday that Zamar was paid in full when he quit. DiMeo said Zaman gave the Fielders a three-day notice of his intention to depart.
Zaman, who couldn't be located for elaboration, provided a different version about his departure during the on-air rant reminiscent of several speeches given by professional wrestler C.M. Punk, a Tinley Park resident.
In the speeches shown on live television on June 27 and again July 10, Punk told Vince McMahon, head of World Wrestling Entertainment, that he was disgruntled and leaving the company.
At the end of Zaman's postgame remarks, he stated he and his friends were attending a WWE event at Allstate Arena where Punk appeared Sunday.
"The Fielders ownership might want to offer apologies like nothing happened or want to play the blame game," Zaman said. "They didn't pay me all the money owed to me and that's why I'm leaving right now."
WKRS general manager Karl Wertzler said Harrison Shamberg was scheduled to replace Zaman in the Fielders' radio booth Tuesday night in Yuma, Ariz. Wertzler said Zaman was an employee of the baseball team and not the radio station.
As for Johnson, he received at least $2,500 cash and then quit by sending an email to an administration employee in the middle of the July 9 home game after leaving the diamond, according to the Fielders. Eleven players were released after refusing to take the field as a show of support for Johnson.
Fielders public-address announcer Greg Koeppen said he's been impressed how fans have supported a batch of new players who came aboard during the last week or so of turmoil.
"They have a truly amazing, talented group of players there," said Koeppen, whose full-time gig is Lake County Farm Bureau manager.
Richard Ehrenreich's Grand Slam Sports and Entertainment operates the Fielders, with actor Kevin Costner promoted as a co-owner.
In February, Ehrenreich's Schaumburg Flyers were evicted from a long-held lease at publicly owned Alexian Field. A judge issued a court order that returned the Flyers' lease to the village of Schaumburg and Schaumburg Park District, as well as requiring the team's ownership to pay $551,828.92 in overdue rent.