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Brewers move to NL Central

The Milwaukee Brewers became the first major-league team to switch leagues this century, moving from the AL to the NL when baseball's ruling executive council approved the shift Wednesday, the Associated Press and the New York Times

reported.

The Brewers, who had been in the AL Central, will play in a six-team NL Central next season. It leaves the NL with 16 teams and the AL with 14.

"I think it's a wonderful thing for baseball," said home-run king Hank Aaron, who started his career with the Milwaukee Braves in 1954 and ended it with the Brewers in 1976. "It's a great day for Milwaukee."

No announcement was made, but the council informed the clubs of its action, the Times

reported.

The Brewers, who have played in the American League since 1970, join Houston, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Cincinnati and the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central.

The Brewers' move will trigger two other changes: the Detroit Tigers going from the AL East to the AL Central, taking the Brewers' spot, and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays from the AL West to the AL East.

Owners gave the council permission to make the final decision when they approved one-team realignment on Oct.

15. While Kansas City was given first choice to switch, the Royals preferred to stay in the AL.

Milwaukee, the team owned by acting commissioner Bud Selig, had said it would move to the NL in the event Kansas City declined.

FREE AGENTS: Deion Sanders filed for free agency after declining to exercise his $2.5-million player option, and Jack McDowell filed a day after the Indians turned down his $4.8-million option.

Doug Strange was the third player who filed Wednesday, increasing the total to 131. Up to 10 more players are potentially eligible to file by Monday's deadline.

Two players agreed to new contracts. Tim Wakefield got a $12-million, three-year contract with Boston and John Jaha agreed to a one-year contract with Milwaukee worth $3,387,500.

TWINS: A pro-stadium commercial showing a player visiting a young cancer patient was pulled off the air after some viewers complained the team was exploiting sick children. The team said the ad was one of several 15-second spots aimed at showing Minnesotans what they would miss if the Twins left town. The team is threatening to leave if it doesn't get a new publicly financed stadium.

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