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The Australian Baseball League, or the ABL, is the premier baseball competition in Australia. Founded in 1989, it is jointly owned by the MLB (Major League Baseball) and the ABF (Australian Baseball Federation). The season takes place from November through February and features the best baseballers from around the country and some classy players from the minor leagues in the United States.
The ABL took over from the Claxton Shield as the top baseball competition in Australia in 1989. The Claxton Shield included teams from Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney, Perth, Gold Coast and Melbourne. However, financial difficulties, lack of suitable venues and a drop in popularity in the mid to late 90’s, saw the League fold in 1999. It was purchased by Dave Nilsson, an Australian MLB player who was with the Milwaukee Brewers at the time. It wasn’t until a decade later that the ABL showed signs of life again, with the ABF, MLB and the Federal Government brokering a deal to resurrect a national baseball league in Australia.
The reformed ABL season is played over ten weeks under a four-game series format, with each team having a bye weekend through the season. The original post-season structure saw the first and second placed teams go head-to-head (major semi-final), with the winner advancing directly into the Championship series. The third and fourth place teams faced off in sudden-death, with the winner advancing to the Preliminary Final Series, where they would face the loser of the major semi. But in the 2012/2013 season, the ABL used a shortened format, with the first placed team going straight through to the Championship Series and the second and third placed team battling it out for the other spot. The winner of the Championship Series is awarded the Claxton Shield.
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