Jai-Alai Chalk Talk Hall of Fame

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Re(1): Strike flyer

Posted on March 28, 2005 at 09:33:35 AM by IJAPA 1988

Listen, Mark K. I've been reading your posts and I'm going to give you my opinion as a player that was there during those difficult times. I was only 18 when I made my professional debut, and I will always be grateful that I was given the opportunity by the company to fulfill my dream, a dream only achieved by a handful of lucky ones. I played for 18 years as a professional in the US, one in Florida and three on the East Coast. However, I expected to be treated with more respect by the management. They treated us sometimes like we were soldiers in the military. I'll give you a few examples of what I call unfair labor practices.

1. I wasn't allowed to use my first or last name as a player. The players manager issued one to me like it was a prison uniform.

2. If you were an American player and for one reason or the other you made the players manager angry, you were told, "Be careful because I can replace you very easily. I have other Americans that are willing to take your place."

3. If you were Basque, it was understood that there were hundreds of kids in Spain waiting for their shot to come to America to play, and the players manager let all of us know that on a frequent basis.

4. A player one year was not allowed to attend his father's funeral in Spain...that's not unfair labor practices?

5. We were prohibited from riding motorcycles or playing other sports.

6. If you were playing early or middle games, you had to go home and stay home until all the rest of the games had ended. The managers would call home to check if you were there.

7. If you had an injury, in some frontons you were let go without any explanation and were not offered a contract for the following season. No reason given verbally, written or anything. I saw it happen to excellent players that were 18, 19, 20 years old full of promise and potential. It was really sad to watch.

8. I heard a manager once threaten a player, "I'll take you outside and beat you up!"

Just to say in plain English, to those people out there that thought that we went on strike for salary negotiations, that is false. I'm sure it wasn't easy to be a players manager but they were looking out for themselves in the company and they treated us like shit in many cases. In the picket lines, many of us players tryed to keep our composure not to insult the fans as they drove thru the line, but after a while the situation got the best of some of us. Years later, I did apologise to some fans that were disrespected by us, however, I don't have to apologise to some of those fans that crossed the line everyday and insulted us. If you asked me today if it was worth it to go on strike, I would say no. If you asked me if I would do it again, I would say YES!! I STOOD UP FOR MY RIGHTS AND THE RIGHTS OF ALL THE OTHER PLAYERS DURING THAT TIME!