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Sun: Orioles Baseball in China


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Deeming baseball a "bourgeois indulgence for the rich," Mao Zedong, China's longtime communist leader, banned the game in 1966 during his Cultural Revolution.

Fifty years later, even as the popularity of other Western sports such as basketball booms in mainland China, baseball remains largely unfamiliar. But the Baltimore Orioles are in the leadoff spot for a mounting effort by Major League Baseball to revive the game there.

Xu Guiyuan, a 19-year-old left-handed first-baseman the Orioles signed in July, will leave his family and country behind this spring to try to become the first Chinese player to make it to the major leagues. He is the first player signed by a club from one of the major league's three youth developmental centers in China, a country of 1.3 billion people that American baseball officials consider fertile ground for the sport's future growth.

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