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Australians Get Baseball Primer

July 28, 2000

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ Though there have been 10 Australians on major league rosters and the sport has gained popularity Down Under as the Sydney Olympics approach, baseball remains unfamiliar to most Aussies.

In a land where cricket still is the most popular game with a bat, the domestic news agency _ the Australian Associated Press _ sent out a primer Friday explaining some of the key rules of baseball.

``Teams score a run when a batter, running anti-clockwise, reaches home base, passing first, second and third base. The batter can stop at each base for safety,″ the primer explains.

``The object is to score as many runs as possible in nine innings. An inning ends when three batters are declared out. Batters attempt to hit balls thrown by a pitcher standing on a mound 18.4 metres away.″

The AAP’s guide was sent out one day after a delegation of American baseball officials, including major league baseball representatives Sandy Alderson and Bob Watson, inspected the Olympic baseball stadium.

The United States and Australia are among the eight nations that will be competing in Olympic baseball at the Sydney Games, which begin Sept. 15.

The AAP guide explained that the team in the field has three ways to get a batter out:

_``When a fielder catches a ball on the full, hit by the batter;

_``If a batter fails to make contact with three legal pitches (three strikes);

_``When a batter or baserunner fails to reach a base before a fielder touches it in possession of the ball.″

There was no mention in the AAP article of resin bags, split-fingered fastballs or Cracker Jack. Perhaps those can wait until the second round of the Olympic baseball.

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