Fox Sports North, which made news earlier this week by allegedly discontinuing the Circle Me Bert tradition during Twins broadcasts, then appearing to backtrack, now says it was all a product of miscommunication.
“We have a great team here at FSN, but this was just a case of departments not being on the same page and working towards the common goal of a great television experience for Twins Territory,” said FSN spokesperson Caity Barnes.
This statement came after multiple reports that FSN planned to replace the long-running segment with a promotion called Fight Me Gregg, sponsored by a local Crossfit gym.
“Our sales team is laser-focused on building lasting relationships with local partners, but this was a case where they overdelivered for one of our clients at the expense of others,” said Barnes. “In the cold light of day, we realize that mistakes were made.”
The “Gregg” in Fight Me Gregg is Leonard “Gregg” Grygla, a retired firefighter and owner of Grygla Fitness in White Bear Lake.
“The plan was that Bart (sic) would circle someone in the crowd who looked physically imposing, and I would challenge them to a fight in the Target Field concourse,” said Grygla. “If they won, they would get a free month’s membership to Grygla Fitness. If they lost, they would get a T-shirt. I’m very disappointed that it’s apparently not going to happen.”
Sources say a botched rehearsal at a Fort Myers spring training game led to the end of the potential partnership.
“Yeah, Bert was supposed to scan the crowd and circle a burly, strapping young man,” said a Minnesota Twins employee who asked not to be identified. “He didn’t do that. He didn’t come close to doing that.”
A Lee Memorial Hospital official said that Howell Zierlien, 81, and his wife Irene, 78, are both in stable condition after what is described by witnesses as a bizarre, disturbing incident at Hammond Stadium.
“This older couple got circled on the stadium scoreboard, and they thought they won a prize,” said Bruce Frasier, a stadium usher. “They were escorted to a patch of bare earth behind the concession stand and told to ready themselves.”
Another witness says Grygla, shirtless, welcomed the couple into “his Octagon” before grappling with the couple.
“He took Irene’s oxygen tank and began wailing on Howell’s calves and yelling ‘SUBMIT! MEMBERSHIPS ARE $59/MONTH FOR ONE PERSON AND $99/MONTH FOR FAMILIES! TAP OUT OR FIGHT,” said the witness. “When he was rushed by security guards, he kept saying, ‘Stop circling people, too many, too many.’”
FSN officials refused to answer specific questions about the incident, but Barnes said everyone is ready to move on.
“We obviously have regrets if anyone was offended by the potential replacement of Circle Me Bert with a different promotion, but we’d like to assure them that it will be a major part of our 2018 broadcasts.”
Grygla said he couldn’t comment on the incident or any future work with FSN on the advice of his attorney, but did say Saturday’s water yoga class at Grygla Fitness will be at 10 am as planned.