Major current international interest

Bymore than clubs were members. Most of the strongest clubs remained those based in the northeastern U. The league placed its emphasis on clubs rather than on players.

Major current international interest

It was an amateur competition little known outside of participating baseball families and genuine baseball devotees. The Claxton Shield was a very high quality annual competition contested by teams selected to represent the major States of Australia. The games were usually played in the form of a compressed "carnival" over little more than a week where teams would battle for the right to play-off in a Grand Final, while the ultimate winners were to become holders of the prestigious Claxton Shield.

Underpinning the Claxton Shield competition were the local baseball leagues in various major cities around Australia, from which the Claxton Shield teams were chosen. Perhaps inspired by the formation of several other new national sporting leagues in Australia and the relative success of Australia's National Basketball League in the 's, the Australian Baseball League was conceived in There was quite a deal of interest from around Australia proposing nominations for clubs to join the new national competition, before finally eight teams were confirmed to pioneer Australian major league baseball.

The Australian Baseball League formally got underway in Octoberrepresenting Australia's first professional "major league". The Rules and The Competition The Australian Baseball League was a serious baseball league much like any other, with clubs playing a number of home and away series against each other, all aiming to qualify for the post season playoffs.

The number of regular season games played per season ranged from 42 to 62, partly dictated by the number of competing teams that varied from six to nine throughout the decade. In the belief that higher scoring would appeal to Australian tastes, the ABL decided it would be a "designated hitter league".

Local players were allowed to use aluminium bats, while any player with a current professional contract in the USA would use a wooden bat. There were limits placed on the number of "import players" allowed to perform for each ABL club, but these limits varied often throughout the ABL decade.

This not only enabled the game to flow more quickly without waiting for catchers to restore their protective equipment after batting, but also produced some more entertaining action on the basepaths. For the first few seasons, the ABL needed to adopt some rules relating to incomplete games because lighting curfews were a problem at some venues.

However, after a few years of experiment, these rules were abandoned and the game reverted to traditional baseball rules.

Over the years, the league tried several different programming strategies aimed to increase fan support, scheduling a combination of nine innings single game days, with seven innings double-headers.

In the end, travelling requirements and costs often determined the nature of the fixtures. It is fair to say that the ABL was never quite satisfied that they had found the optimum fixturing formula.

The playoff format also changed over the decade. For the first three years, only the top two teams contested a best-of-five Championship Series. In it was decided that the top four teams would contest best-of-three Semi-Finals on a 1v4 and 2v3 basis, with the winners contesting a best-of-three Championship Series.

Under these formats, the higher placed team was rewarded by staging the series at their home venue. It was hoped that the fixed venue would generate substantial interest in the host city and reduce travelling costs for the competing teams, but this concept was never substantiated by results.

Ina playoff round-robin series was conducted at Altona in Melbourne with the top two teams emerging to play a best-of-three Championship Series. Like any high quality professional sport, ABL competition was always very serious and occasionally fierce.

Individual players carried over the spirit of competition from the Claxton Shield days and the opponent clubs also developed some intense rivalries. Like most good rivalry stories, this battle was fuelled when several players transferred from one club to the other over the decade.

Whatever else anyone might say about ABL baseball, there could be no dispute that the games were played with passion and a genuine desire to win, making it great entertainment for the league's fans who enjoyed every minute of it! However, as time elapsed, the clubs inevitably moved towards private ownership as State Associations found it tough to justify often substantial financial losses.

Sad but true that, during the ten year span of the ABL, few clubs could claim to have been truly profitable on a regular basis. While a number of different owners continued to fund teams out of devotion to their clubs and the sport of baseball, it became increasingly apparent that our national baseball league teams simply could not pay for themselves.

The loyal fan base was too small to raise sufficient gate revenues, while the sponsorship market was extremely tough for a small sporting fish in a very large pond! It was hard to generate the level of media interest required to develop and build an audience in a country where baseball remains very much a minority sport compared with the major football codes and Australia's summer passion for cricket.

Of course, on top of this we had the usual high travelling costs for teams to move around the vast continent of Australia, while other costs such as stadium accommodation, lighting and player payments were always on the increase.

While most clubs did their best to manage themselves professionally, it would be true to say that much of the work was done by people who devoted most of their time for little payment. In general, the people involved were devoted "baseball people" often with family links to players and each with a passion to make their club succeed The front-offices of ABL clubs were generally operated by very dedicated and tireless people who worked very long hours for little reward.

Major current international interest

Making their jobs more difficult was the universal lack of money for operating budgets and a drastic shortage of support staff.CITES is an international agreement between governments, aimed to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

Spring Break While some students may be headed for some rest and relaxation during this year's break, Pace students are traveling the world for the opportunity to volunteer, explore, and soak in knowledge instead of just the sun!

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