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Last Minute Deal Averts Major League Baseball Strike

U.S. Major League Baseball players and owners have reached a deal averting a strike, hours before the scheduled start of several games across the country.

Baseball officials said the sides reached an agreement midday Friday. Key disagreements included a luxury tax and revenue sharing between richer and poorer teams. As part of the settlement, owners agreed to keep teams that generate lower revenues through the 2006 season.

Baseball fans, as well as vendors who depend on sales from games, criticized the threatened work stoppage of the players who make an average salary of nearly $2.5 million.

The last major-league baseball strike, in 1994, led to cancellation of the World Series (championship) for the first time in 90 years.