Bulls pitcher Zach Biehl

Pitcher Zach Biehl is just one of the 24 players who has to find work some place else.

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It’s the end of the road for the short lived Ellensburg Bulls and the Mount Rainier Professional Baseball league.

The league officially disbanded after its website shut down, its social media accounts were deleted and its commissioner, Mike Greene, could not be reached.

The Bulls and teams from Grays Harbor, Moses Lake, Skagit Valley, Oregon City, Ore., and Whitefish, Mont., only played eight games before packing their bags to head home.

Bulls General Manager Keith Marshall said he believes Greene lost thousands trying to get the league started. Marshall is still waiting for his paycheck and money to pay his manager and players. 

"He basically decided to gamble his life savings on these kids to fulfill their dreams," Marshall said. "He is a baseball man, but not a business guy, and that was his flaw."

Although he did not receive any money from Greene, Marshall said he has no intention to take legal action because it is not worth it.

Warning signs that the league was having trouble arose May 30, nine days after the season started. Greene sent out a press release on the league's website asking for help because he was out of money.

“I wasn't fully aware of everything and everyone that was needed to be successful," Greene said in the statement. "I had big dreams and great intentions, still do. But the last couple of weeks, frankly the last couple of months, have proven that I’m currently in over my head."

Two days later, Greene set out another release stating that he had a plan to cut the league down to four teams. Those plans didn’t go anywhere when players and managers from each team started to leave.

In a series of emails, Greene said he would be willing to give up two of the three teams he owned if he could get support from three other team owners. Former professional baseball player Selwyn Young, who now coaches college baseball in South Carolina, agreed to take over ownership of the Bulls without buying the team, but no one else agreed to take part.

Greene also was struggling trying to pay for the league's website. According to the emails, Greene owed Pointstreak Sports Technologies Inc. $3,000 to keep the website up. Pointstreak even granted Greene more time to send a payment of half the amount by June 5, which he was still unable to do and the website shut down.

During the first days of the season, Greene also was having health problems with what Marshall said were failing kidneys. According to an article in The Oregonian about the MRPBL's Oregon City Mud Turtles, Greene's ex-wife, Dawn Mosteller, posted on the league's Facebook page that he was hospitalized and unable to communicate with the teams. 

Greene did not respond to multiple emails from the Daily Record. A phone number listed on the emails has been disconnected. 

Ellensburg was not the only team struggling financially while the league was alive.

The Glacier Outlaws, who played in Whitefish, Mont., also had problems during the shortened MRPBL season. 

Although Greene made the trip to Whitefish well before the season started and met with Lindsay Fansler, who went on to become the team's general manager, Fansler said he was skeptical about the whole thing, especially the funding. 

"He said he had financial backers who would help," Fansler said. "In retrospect, should we have asked for the contracts he had with his backers or for detailed financial information? Probably. But he has been around independent leagues he swore up and down that he has never seen a collapse with backers in place for at least the first year. I took up a sponsorship role because I wanted to see it (succeed)."

If everyone had paid, Fansler said the Glacier Outlaws would have made $18,000. Instead he had companies hold off and he never saw the money from those who paid online.

"It automatically went to the league or Mike Greene or whoever," Fansler said. 

Glacier and Ellensburg's paths crossed when the two teams met the weekend of May 29-31 to play a three-game series at Rotary Park. The two teams played the first two games but had to cancel the third because of a double booking on the field.

That was not the biggest problem. 

After convincing Greene to pay for travel costs to Ellensburg, Fansler drove the team to Washington and after getting them checked into their rooms, he headed back to Whitefish. 

During that time, the players were locked out of their rooms because of a declined credit card Fansler was given.

"Basically I was driving for a total of 15 hours when I found that out," he said. "It was just a tough situation."

Ellensburg Manager Jim Hayes paid for a room and took some of the players out for dinner the first night and what little money Fansler had left paid for the second night. They were able to stay a third night when one of the player's father stepped forward to help.

"Our community here in Ellensburg jumped up and wasn't going to allow this to happen," Hayes said.

Greene did send $800 through Western Union to get Glacier home, but Fansler said he was extremely upset at the lack of communication.

"I just had enough at that point and at the end of the conversation he acted like nothing was wrong," Fansler said. 

Although the MRPBL has ended, Hayes has already found leagues for nine of his 24 players and said four more players are trying out for teams this week. 

Marshall plans to attend Monday’s Ellensburg City Council meeting to keep pursuing the sale of beer for professional baseball games at Rotary Park.

"The good part of this whole thing is that Ellensburg is ready for professional baseball to happen," Marshall said. "This was like a trial run to educate all of us how baseball can work here in Ellensburg. That's what was needed." 


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