MINNEAPOLIS — The local sports community is remembering a beloved baseball umpire who died after a nearly month-long battle with COVID-19.
It's been three weeks since Joshua Maiman says he last spoke to his best friend of 15 years, Eleazar Kovalov, or as many in the Minnesota baseball community called him, Zar.
"I mean, I remember talking to him on the 20th. He was doing okay; we were joking for a bit," said Maiman.
He didn't realize it'd be the last time.
"He would've stayed on that phone later, longer if he could've," said Maiman.
Zar was a well-known umpire with the Minnesota Baseball Association and a member of Northwest Umpires.
"When he was out there, they got one of Minnesota's best out there — if not the best," said Maiman.
Maiman says Zar was a man with many passions and talents, but his first love was always music.
"He was actually pretty darn good," said Maiman.
Those passions became less of a priority after Zar fell ill and ended up in the hospital on Oct. 13 with COVID-19.
"Yeah it ran through the house," said Maiman.
Maiman says Zar — whose vaccination status isn't known — his wife and two of his kids all got the virus.
"He wasn't even able to be necessarily surrounded by the people he loved at the time, just because everybody was sick," said Maiman.
After spending nearly a month in the hospital, 55-year-old Zar died.
"Everybody's still half in shock over the fact that he's not here," said Maiman.
Including those in the Minnesota baseball world.
The Burnsville Bobcats took to Twitter saying in part, "You were one of a kind."
Northwest Umpires said, "We've lost a valuable member and friend, who will be greatly missed."
"Just enjoyed being a part of the community, that is the Minnesota baseball community, which is just so huge," said Maiman.
Zar's family is in the process of planning a memorial service for him that will happen sometime after Thanksgiving.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help pay for his medical expenses, along with his wife Rebekah and their four children, Yvi, Alex, Aaron and Savannah.