Newspaper Mistakenly Reports Pioneering Baseball Player Is Dead — When She Was Really Living in Maine

Despite a now-retracted report to the contrary from the San Francisco Chronicle, female baseball player and coach Oz Sailors is alive

<p>Getty</p> Stock image


Stock image
  • The San Francisco Chronicle published baseball player Oz Sailors' obituary on July 1 after her employer, Baseball For All, announced her death a few days earlier

  • However, a Maine official said that he had spoken with Sailors face-to-face on July 9

  • Oz's mother, Haleh Sailors, alleged that her daughter may have had a "mental breakdown," the Chronicle reported

A groundbreaking female baseball player is alive despite previous reports from a major Bay Area newspaper and her employer that stated she had died last month.

According to the Bangor Daily News, former University of Maine at Presque Isle pitcher Ghazaleh "Oz" Sailors was first reported dead by her employer, girls' baseball advocacy organization Baseball For All, on June 28,

“Oz Sailors, a pioneering woman in baseball who pitched in college, played professionally around the world and later coached at two Bay Area high schools, died last week at age 31,” Baseball For All's now-deleted post stated, per the Daily News.

The San Francisco Chronicle later published an obituary on July 1.

Related: Man with Special Needs Declared Dead by Mistake and Has His Benefits Revoked: 'Really Hard and Frustrating'

However, just days after reports circulated about the athlete and coach's supposed death, both the Daily News and the Chronicle confirmed that Sailors was, in fact, alive.

The Chronicle reported on Wednesday, July 10, that Commander Forrest Dudley of the Aroostook County Sheriff's Department in Maine had spoken with Sailors just one day prior, on Tuesday, July 9.

"I spoke to her in person, face-to-face," Dudley told the San Francisco-based newspaper. "She's alive."

Additionally, Sailors' brother Hajir and her friend Alison Proctor shared an email, which Sailors allegedly sent.

"Please publish I’m alive and they announced my death early and please make me the biggest fraud case of all time. All I wanted was for you guys to leave me alone and you can’t even do that," the email read, via the Chronicle.

The Daily News also reported it had reached Sailors by telephone, but she declined to comment on the reports of her death.

Sailors did not immediately respond to an email from PEOPLE on Thursday, July 11.

Related: Woman Wrongly Declared Dead for Over 15 Years Is Still Fighting to Prove Her Existence: 'I'm Blocked'

The sheriff's department conducted a welfare check on Sailors on July 10 at the request of her family, the Chronicle added.

The former coach had not been in contact with her family outside of her brother Hajir for some time, per the Chronicle, and Hajir reached out to the paper with questions about her death.

The newspaper also reported that Sailors had been speaking to friends and family that she had experienced "brain stem degeneration" for some time. On June 5, a GoFundMe page was set up on her behalf with the description: "My friend, Oz Sailors, was thrown a life-sized curveball and her loved ones need our support!"

The Chronicle reported that a line was later added to the page stating: "This gofundme is to help pay for funeral expenses." The fundraiser garnered over $3,000 as of July 11 and is no longer accepting donations.

The newspaper also reported that Sailor and her parents rarely spoke over the last decade, after she alleged in 2014 that they abused her. Haleh Sailors, Oz's mother, denied the accusation and alleged that Oz may have had "a mental breakdown," the Chronicle added,

Sailors is a longtime advocate for girls' women's baseball and an accomplished coach in the sport. Beginning her baseball career in high school in the Santa Barbara, California, area, she sought out a college program that would accept her on its baseball team rather than a softball team.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

In 2011, she began playing NCAA baseball at the University of Maine at Presque Isle where she pitched until 2015 before going abroad to coach teams in Australia and China. She coached at a Major League Baseball development organization while in China, according to her alma mater.

Related: Florida Man Who Was Declared Dead Is Found Breathing Minutes Later; Paramedics Suspended

Sailors returned to the U.S. and later went to California as a high school baseball coach and ambassador for the San Francisco Giants. She made history in the Bay Area when she took over as the head varsity baseball coach at Moreau Catholic High School in Hayward, California — making her the first female to assume that role in the state's history, according to the university.

Per her LinkedIn page, Sailors started at Baseball for All in October 2023, serving as the director of player development. In February, she was inducted into the University of Maine's Owls Athletics Hall of Fame.

For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on People.