NEW YORK (AP) -Hank Aaron will be getting a bigger role with the Atlanta Braves following the team's sale from Time Warner Inc. to Liberty Media Corp.
The deal, which Braves chairman Terry McGuirk said values the franchise at $450 million, was unanimously approved by baseball owners at a special meeting called Wednesday night to beat a midnight change in tax laws.
``Hank Aaron is going be a critical part of all this. It was very important to me, and I know it's very important to Terry and to Bill,'' commissioner Bud Selig said at a news conference with McGuirk and Braves chairman emeritus Bill Bartholomay. ``I'm sure there will be an increased role for Hank.''
After setting the career home run record with 755 and retiring as a player, Aaron became a Braves vice president and the director of player development in October 1976 and held that role for 13 years. He became a senior vice president in December 1989 and also currently is on the club's board of directors.
Selig has been close to Aaron since the slugger played for the Milwaukee Braves from 1954-65, and Aaron spent two seasons with Selig's Milwaukee Brewers before retiring as a player following the 1976 season. Selig wouldn't say what Aaron's increased responsibilities will be with the Braves.
``That's something they will announce,'' Selig said.
Time Warner and Liberty agreed to the sale in February. Liberty said Thursday it exchanged approximately 68.5 million shares of Time Warner common stock, subject to a working capital adjustment, for the Braves, Time Inc.'s Leisure Arts Inc. and $960 million. Liberty retained about 103 million shares (2.8 percent) of Time Warner common stock.
Starting Thursday, the Braves became a self-governed subsidiary of Liberty Media, with McGuirk reporting to the team's board in his capacity as chairman and president. John Schuerholz remains as general manager and Bobby Cox as manager.
Atlanta won 14 consecutive division titles through 2005 and defeated Cleveland in the 1995 World Series. Ted Turner took control of the Braves in 1976, and Time Warner acquired the team in 1996 when it merged with Turner Broadcasting System.
``Continuity seems to me to be the word that is the greatest triumph here. The performance of the Atlanta Braves over the last 15 years, the championship-caliber baseball, all that continues on unabated,'' McGuirk said. ``Our goal is to do it as well in the future as it has been done in the past. It's exactly the same people. That's sort of the elegance of this announcement. There are no changes. There will be a continuation of past practices.''
McGuirk said the sale included a provision that the Braves will have a payroll at least as high as its current level - about $90 million at the start of the season. The ballpark will continue to be known as Turner Field.
``We not only have preserved great stability here, but I think that this is certainly in the best interests of the Braves, and clearly I think is a great thing for baseball,'' Selig said.
In other news:
-Baseball will send a high-level delegation to China this month to inspect stadiums ahead of a possible trip there for exhibition games next year. Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, will head the group, which also will include San Diego Padres chief executive officer Sandy Alderson, Boston Red Sox president Larry Lucchino and Pittsburgh Pirates CEO Kevin McClatchy.
-DuPuy said Major League Baseball will not institute any league-wide change following the death of St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock in a car crash. Hancock's blood-alcohol level was 0.157, nearly twice Missouri's legal limit of 0.08, and following the accident some teams have moved to more restrictive policies on alcohol in clubhouses and on charter flights. ``I think the commissioner has made it clear that he views that as a club policy, and that he has left it to the clubs to determine their policy,'' DuPuy said.

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