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Baseball strike off

New York, Aug. 31 (Reuters): Major League Baseball players reached agreement with team owners on a four-year labour deal yesterday, narrowly averting a strike that threatened to drive away the sport’s already embittered fans.

Overcoming more than 30 years of labour strife, negotiators clinched the deal after marathon talks that ended just minutes before a deadline that would have triggered a strike. It marked the first labour pact between owners and players without a work stoppage, dating back to 1972. With the agreement, baseball skirted what would have been its ninth work stoppage in 31 years, to the relief of millions of fans still stung by a 1994 strike that cancelled the World Series for the first time in 90 years.

Commissioner Bud Selig hailed the settlement as “a historic agreement” and said it would “make significant contributions to restoring competitive balance.” Details of the pact were not disclosed and Selig told a news conference the deal was subject to a formal ratification process with clubs lasting about a week.

Donald Fehr, chief of the powerful players’ union, whose members won significant concessions from the owners in previous contracts, agreed to the owners' proposed structure of revenue sharing and a luxury tax on payrolls.

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