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Ben and Julianna Zobrist file for divorce in separate courts — and in separate states — after 13-plus years of marriage
Julianna and Ben Zobrist
Photos of Julianna and Ben Zobrist.
Phil Thompson Phil ThompsonContact ReporterChicago Tribune
Cubs utilityman Ben Zobrist and his wife, Julianna Zobrist, have each filed for divorce in separate states, according to court records.
Ben Zobrist filed for legal separation Monday in Williamson County, Tenn., where the couple — married since December 2005 — keep an offseason home in a Nashville suburb.
Julianna Zobrist filed in Cook County, also on Monday.
Julianna, a 34-year-old Christian pop singer, did not provide a reason for seeking a divorce in her petition. She also recently deleted her Twitter account.
According to the Tennessean, Ben Zobrist’s filing contends that his wife “has been guilty of inappropriate marital conduct which render further cohabitation impossible,” though the article didn’t elaborate.
“Husband is unsure if the marriage can be salvaged,” the filing says, according to the Tennessean.
Julianna, whose maiden name is Gilmore, has hired Berger Schatz attorney Karen Krehbiel, who represented Chicago billionaire hedge fund CEO Kenneth Griffin in his split with Anne Dias Griffin in 2014.
When asked whether Julianna Zobrist would like to respond to her husband’s assertions, an assistant for Krehbiel said, “Not at this time,” and added on behalf of the Chicago-based firm, “We don’t have any information right now to release to the public.”
Ben Zobrist hired Nashville attorney Helen Rogers.
The Cubs granted Zobrist, 37, a leave of absence a week ago. Manager Joe Maddon, whose association with Zobrist dates to 2006 with the Rays, wasn’t sure when the valuable infielder-outfielder would return.
“I couldn’t even begin to surmise that,” Maddon said before Wednesday’s game against the Reds. “I have no idea. I totally respect the man’s privacy. I totally respect the man. I feel for him.
“Having gone through that process myself, it’s no fun. For him to do it under these circumstances here, I just want to respect his privacy. There’s no timeline involved. He’ll let us know.”
Maddon had said Tuesday he has been texting with Zobrist during his time on the restricted list while he deals with a “family matter.”
One would be hard-pressed to find a more homespun celebrity love story than Ben and Julianna, one that had followings in the sports and faith communities.
Both the children of pastors, they had become such an iconic couple that Parade magazine declared them and their three children the “All-American family” in a June 2017 cover story.
READ MORE: Ben Zobrist was on the verge of quitting baseball in 2000. But a $50 tryout put him on the path to the major leagues — and the Cubs »
Ben would use her songs as his walk-up music. Julianna scheduled tour dates around his schedule and sang at some of his games. The couple maintained a “six-day rule,” vowing never to be apart for more than six days.
When Julianna was a 16-year-old high school junior, she met Ben, a native of Eureka, Ill., through her sister’s husband, Dan Heefner. Ben and Heefner were teammates and roommates at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais.
The couple didn’t date until her college years at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. They were married Dec. 17, 2005, in Iowa City, Iowa.
According to an interview with People magazine, Julianna said she and her husband came up with the “six-day” rule in 2004 after the Astros drafted Ben and soon traded him to the Rays.
“We decided that if we were going to do this baseball thing, we were going to do it together,” Julianna told People. “Neither of us was naive; we knew the divorce rate in baseball. … So we implemented a six-day rule, where we try to never be apart for more than six days.”
The Zobrists had been fixtures in each other’s public lives on the field and on social media.
In 2017, they mingled with Washington elite at the National Prayer Breakfast, where Julianna sang selections from her album “Shatterproof.”
Julianna sang the national anthem at Game 4 of the 2016 World Series. Ben picked her rendition of an Elton John song, which they called “Benny the Jet,” for his walk-up song.
Ben was often her cheerleader on social media, posting a video of him wearing a T-shirt with her likeness on it and another of him pumping his hands in the air as he watched her appearance on the “Today” show in September.
The next day, he posted a tribute to her on Instagram as he celebrated the release of her book, “Pull It Off: Removing Your Fears and Putting On Confidence.”
“I’m in love with this woman,” he wrote. “When we first started dating I knew she was going to do something special in this world for a lot of people. She has a voice that everyone knew was incredible, but this book proves the heart behind it is even more b