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BATTER UP: By all accounts, last year was a winning season for Major League Baseball, which set personal, team and league records and generated a fan fervor not seen in recent league history. But at this point, it looks like it will be the 1999 season that hits a marketing grand slam.

Baseball marketing-related stories topped all other ad industry events in terms of coverage in the SPINdex sample of influential media outlets during the one-month period leading up to this column.

With 184 print and electronic media stories, including seven network TV newscasts, baseball marketing scored a SPINdex of 1,799 and far out-distanced all other marketing events tracked in this month's column.

By comparison, the ultra-controversial TV endorsement campaign featuring O.J. Simpson for Justice Media, a lawyer's group, placed second with a meager SPINdex of 99.

Media coverage of another high-profile celebrity ad endorsement-Tom Hanks' ads for the National World War II Memorial Campaign-ranked third with a SPINdex of 84, while Bruce Willis' ad (via a stop-action animated figure) for Lipton Brisk tea failed to make the top five (ranking sixth with a SPINdex of 19).

Rounding out this month's chart were stories about IBM Corp.'s policy of placing Web ads only on sites that disclose their privacy policies and McDonald's

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