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Saturday, April 13, 2024

John Jonas had brief, busy stint as Salians Spurs GM

John Jonas 1990 Salinas Spurs card

As general manager of the independent Salinas Spurs, John Jonas already had his work cut out for him.

He needed to assemble a workable team, get fans in the stands, court advertisers and do it all in the competitive California League in his first job as a minor league general manager.

"This is a city with great potential," Jonas told The Salinas Californian late that March has he tried to do all those things. "Most of it is unharnessed. The question is, how do you reach that potential?"

Jonas, however, never really could succeed in any of those, all leading to his tenure as Salinas GM proving brief. He was out by the end of June.

Jonas arrived in Salinas from his native Connecticut. He'd served the previous year as business manager for the Joe Buzas-owned New Britain Red Sox. Buzas also owned the Salinas Spurs.

Jonas' 1989 campaign with New Britain also marked his first with that club. The Hartford Courant noted Jonas came from a hockey background, playing at Andrew Warde High School in Fairfield, Conn. and officiating youth hockey.

The team went down to the wire signing players. Days before opening, they had 18, including a unique eight-player loan from Japan's Daiei Hawks, The Californian wrote.

"We need to sign a few more," Jonas told The Californian five days before their scheduled opener. "We expect to have everyone signed in the next day or two."

Jonas also became the point man for updates on one signing, in particular, former Dodgers hurler Steve Howe as Howe attempted to make it back to the majors after well-publicized drug troubles. 

Early that June, Howe suffered a blood clot in his lung and was hospitalized for a time. Jonas updated media outlets on Howe's progress.

Elsewhere with the team, Jonas had watch over a team with such varying backgrounds. In a Philadelphia Inquirer feature on the Japanese aspect of the team that June, talk turned to low attendance and the locals just not noticing the team.

"The fans don't care about the Japanese ballplayers one way or the other," Jonas told The Inquirer. "They're just not eager to watch a last-place club."

Frustrations boiled over that June 26, though. A dispute with the team's operations director led Jonas to contact Buzas. By the end of the call, Jonas was out, The Californian wrote. Buzas cited Jonas' limited experience. Jonas just expressed frustration.

"You couldn't print what I want to say," a heated Jonas told The Californian the night of the call. "I'm very angry. But I feel a sense of relief. The pressure's off."

Jonas appears not to have returned to baseball. Searches for his whereabouts post-Salinas proved unsuccessful.

John Jonas 1990 Salinas Spurs card

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,349
Made the Majors:1,401-32.2%
Never Made Majors:2,948-67.8%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:570
10+ Seasons in the Minors:352

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