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Japanese baseball owners approve interleague plan

The owners of professional baseball clubs approved a plan Wednesday to hold interleague regular-season games next year for the fist time ever.

The owners gave the go-ahead to the interleague game plan worked out by Nippon Professional Baseball officials earlier this week, in which each team will play 36 games during the 2005 regular season assuming that each league continues to have six teams.

Each Central and Pacific league team will play six games against each team in the other league. The number of interleague games will be reviewed on the basis of next year’s results.

At the extraordinary owners meeting, a five-member body was inaugurated for the screening of two applicants for NPB membership.

The new body operates under the NPB executive committee and will hold its first meeting Thursday to start the screening of Internet-related companies Livedoor Co. and Rakuten Inc.

Both companies have chosen Sendai as their hometown and are seeking to enter pro baseball next season.

The NPB is expected to select one of them to fill the void in the Pacific League left by the merger between the Orix BlueWave and Kintetsu Buffaloes, with approval by the owners due to come Nov. 2.

New league planned

TAKAMATSU, Kagawa Pref. (Kyodo) Former Orix BlueWave manager Hiromichi Ishige said Wednesday he will reveal a plan Thursday to establish a new baseball league in the four prefectures on Shikoku Island.

“I’m going to send a ‘hot’ message at a press conference tomorrow (Thursday),” Ishige said without giving any details of the plan.

According to sources close to him, the new league will be run by Tokyo-based company IBLJ, which is headed by Ishige, and feature one team in each of the four prefectures on Shikoku.

Players would be drafted from among young prospects who are not playing for any of the professional clubs or corporate teams, the sources said.

Rhodes rips No. 45

The Associated Press

Tuffy Rhodes hit his Central League-leading 45th homer Wednesday to power Yomiuri to a 4-2 win over the Hiroshima Carp in the Giants’ last game of the season at Tokyo Dome.

Dragons at Swallows — ppd.

BayStars at Tigers — ppd.