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Demise of Admirals spurred by player strike over unpaid wages

Vallejo AdmiralsBefore the independent Pacific Association suspended the Vallejo Admirals, the team was crippled by a player strike and a front-office exodus over unpaid wages and salaries.

When Pacific Association commissioner Mike Marshall announced the team’s suspension from the league, he referenced the team’s unpaid bills, ranging from player wages to front-office salaries to ballpark rent. Admirals owner Joe Fontana confirmed the unpaid bills and said he was shaking the trees in an attempt to raise funds to pay players and workers.

As a result, all players under contract to the Admirals were declared free agents, and two members of the front office left or were fired, depending on who you ask.

From the Times-Herald:

Tyler Browne…said his contract was ended July 2 after he had repeatedly asked Fontana about several issues related not only to his paycheck but other outstanding debts within the organization.

“There were a lot of red flags in the last month,” Browne told the Times-Herald. “Creditors were contacting us, local businesses were contacting us. A lot of them were under the assumption that they would be paid up front.”

Browne said he is waiting for the rest of his pay, plus monthly commission and additional out-of-pocket expenses. He declined to reveal the amount.

Things came to a head when players refused to take the field Tuesday night, with the league discovering no airline tickets had been purchased for the Admirals’ scheduled trip to Hawaii. In the end, the East Bay Lumberjacks were substituted, but that’s really a misnomer: the Lumberjacks’ uniforms were sent to Hawaii, and several former Na Koa Ikaika Maui players, as well as a group of locals, actually played for the Lumberjacks, along with a few Admirals players who made their own travel arrangements. From Maui News:

Former Na Koa player Mark Okano is playing center field for the Jacks. Mo Lau Hee, a former Kamehameha Maui standout and current assistant coach, is the designated hitter. Logan Kanamu, a former Baldwin standout, is the catcher, and Barry Takahashi is the first-base and pitching coach. Joseph Kala, a former Maui High standout, is also on the East Bay roster for this set.

Okano, Kanamu and Kala are all former Na Koa players, while Lau Hee played collegiately at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore.

RELATED STORIES: Pacific Association suspends Vallejo Admirals; Pacific Association in flux


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