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BASEBALL ESTABLISHES JAPANESE UMPIRE EXCHANGE PROGRAM
Published February 15, 1996
In what MLB terms an "unprecedented exchange designed to strengthen longstanding relationships with Japanese baseball," the NL and AL have agreed to conduct an experimental umpire exchange program with the Central and Pacific Leagues of Japan for spring training '96. Under the deal, four Japanese umpires will join AL and NL umps in split-crew assignments this spring, while AL umps Jim Evans and Don Denkinger and NL umps Jerry Crawford and Charlie Williams will work for a week in Japan. NL President Len Coleman: "I hope it is just the beginning of more activities involving Major League Baseball and Japanese Baseball." AL President Gene Budig: "No sport is better positioned than baseball for international growth ... There will be other significant initiatives in the future." MLBPA official Gene Orza: "This is a small but obvious step in the eventual internationalizing of the sport. I'm sure the players will have a positive response to it" (MLB).