The October League

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THE BALLPARK IN ARLINGTON, Texas: With the pitch from the Texas Rangers' Darren Oliver to San Francisco's Darryl Hamilton at 7:11 p.m. CDT Thursday, interleague play in baseball officially began and the century-old wall between the leagues was torn down. First interleague count: 1-0. Baseball's new look is bemoaned by purists but hailed by marketers and bean-counters as just the shot in the arm (and hopefully a rise in attendance) that the game needs. Friday night's face-off in Atlanta between the Braves and Orioles is just what supporters had in mind: baseball's best teams squaring off in a June World Series preview, and sellout crowds of 50,000 crammed into Turner field, all clamoring for a look at Cal Ripken and the man who ended the Braves' 1996 season, Jimmy Key. It was certainly a hit Thursday in Texas, where 46,507 showed up at The Ballpark to see history made. After notching the new era's first win, Giants pitcher Mark Gardner recalled a bit of AL culture shock. "They've got quite a lineup," he said. "I kept looking for the ninth hitter, the pitcher, and he never showed up."