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USA BASEBALL IS STILL HOPING FOR ITS OWN DREAM TEAM IN ’96

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An outfield of Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Bonds and Andy Van Slyke playing for the United States in the Olympics?

That's the dream of USA Baseball officials, and they vow to continue their fight for the eligibility of pro players in the Olympics despite a recent vote to keep the Games limited to amateurs.On Saturday, those officials enlisted the help of a potentially powerful supporter - New York Yankees owner George Stein-brenner - and said they may try again this fall to get the ban on professionals lifted.

The International Baseball Association, meeting last weekend in Switzerland, fell three votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to repeal its amateur eligibility requirement.

The United States and Australia led the push to repeal the rule. Countries such as Japan and Cuba, which traditionally dominates the Olympics and other international baseball tournaments, fought against the rule change.

Steinbrenner, a vice president of the U.S. Olympic Committee, said it's time the United States gets to use its best players in the Olympics.

"It does bother me with countries no bigger than the size of Texas beating us," he said. "It's tough at the Pan American Games and the Olympics to see some of these countries beat us. When Japan beats you in baseball, that's hard to explain."

Executive director Richard Case of USA Baseball is still optimistic of getting minor leaguers into the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, and envisions a Super Team of major leaguers at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia.