For Pete's Sake

Fans stunned by Ben and Julianna Zobrist divorce news offer prayers and support

Eureka, Ill., home of Ben Zobrist’s back yard Whiffle ball field & some Royals fans

The Star's Vahe Gregorian visited Eureka, Ill., home of Royals second baseman Ben Zobrist, and saw his first Royals jersey (from 1985), the backyard where Ben built a Whiffle ball field and the place he played high school baseball.
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The Star's Vahe Gregorian visited Eureka, Ill., home of Royals second baseman Ben Zobrist, and saw his first Royals jersey (from 1985), the backyard where Ben built a Whiffle ball field and the place he played high school baseball.

For the Zobrists, balancing Ben’s hectic schedule as major-league baseball player and Julianna’s musical career wasn’t easy, particularly as parents to three children.

They talked publicly about how they prioritized their marriage.

“When Ben was first drafted into the minor leagues … he called me and he said, if I’m going to do this thing, then we’re going to do this together,” Julianna told NPR in 2017. “It’s not going to be a me thing. It’s going to be a we thing. And so we decided on that day to never spend any longer than six days apart.

“It’s not a magic number. It’s not like the golden ticket to a perfect marriage,” she added. “But for us, it was a starting point. It was, all right, we’ve got to draw the line in the sand somewhere, and a week just felt too long. And every single spring, we sit down for about four to eight hours with our teams. … I get one of those massive calendars and we literally go through and write down every city that we’re going to be in. We write in date nights. We write in family date days.”

News surfaced this week that on Monday, Julianna filed for divorce and Ben filed for legal separation.

Ben Zobrist spent some of his formative years living with his parents and siblings in Belton. He’d never been to a major-league game until he visited Kauffman Stadium for the first time in the early 1980s.

Though he spent just three months with the Royals, he and his family quickly became fan favorites in Kansas City. She sang the national anthem before Royals games at Kauffman Stadium and previously for the Tampa Bay Rays, where Zobrist played for nine years. Julianna gave birth to a daughter not long after the Royals won the 2015 World Series, and the couple named her Blaise Royal.

After Zobrist signed with the Chicago Cubs after the 2015 season, Julianna posted a heartwarming farewell letter to Kansas City on social media: “Thank you for loving our family and embracing us in a most genuine and surprising way. You are an unforgettable and unique city of people. We are honored to have you as part of our family story. With love, Jules (for Ben, Zion, Kruse and Blaise ROYAL too).”

In 2016, the Cubs won its first World Series in 108 years and Zobrist was named the World Series MVP.

In June 2017, Parade magazine called the Zobrists an “All-American family,” and recounted how the two met and how Julianna “prayed that God would either put this guy in my life or shut that door.”

When Ben wore his Cubs uniform and was photographed riding a bicycle to Wrigley Field in September, it seemed that the Zobrists — who also talked openly about their faith — were living an idyllic life.

So fans in Kansas City (as well as Tampa Bay and Chicago) were stunned and saddened by this week’s news that the couple appear to be separating after 14 years of marriage. Zobrist been on a personal leave of absence since May 8.

Here is a sampling of what fans were saying:

From @Lilrich92: “I pray for the Zobrist family during this time … divorce is never easy. They always seemed so happy but I guess you never truly knows what goes on behind closed doors.”

From @TravisZurawski: “Ben Zobrist I’m praying for you and your children. I pray things will get better for you and your children. Gods love and blessings brother.”

From @IA_Cub: “Damn sad news about Ben Zobrist and his wife. They were always like the model couple in baseball.”

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From covering the World Series to the World Cup, Pete has done a little bit of everything since joining The Star in 1997. He writes about baseball and has a quirky blog that augments The Star’s coverage of area teams.

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