Cesar Cedeno will play his 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th major league seasons under baseball's biggest, longest contract yet - and here the players association had been fingering the Houston Astros as lowest-playing team in the National League.

The average Astro salary for 1977 was $55.973 compared with the Phillies' NL-leading $139,916, but Cedeno will bring that up the way he shot his batting average up from .179 last June 22 to .279 at season's end - much more in keeping with his career .292. The Astros will pay him $3.5 million over the duration of 10-year pact he accepted yesterday and, noted Tal Smith, club president, "There is a provision for extension beyond that time. In effect, this is a career contract."

Cedeno, a Gold Clove center fielder (1972 and 1976) who has power and steals bases with the best of them, has never played for anyone but the Astros since coming up in 1970. His only shortcomings have been, on occasion, off the field and in attitude, making the only question (aside from possible injury) in such a long-term tieup one of incentive.

No problem, said Smith, Cedeno (27 next week) can be traded anytime . . .

About the rich Phillies, Houston's Smith said they dre 2.7 million fans but made only $500,000 last year. And Bill Giles, Phils executive veep, says things could get worse: "If President Carter's tax reform . . goes through, we could be out of business."

The FANS consumerist organization among others has leapt to the support of the measure that would knock out entertainment as a business deduction, maintaining it would make more tickets available (particularly in cases such as the Redskins, with automatic full houses) to the true fan but Giles doesn't see it that way at all.

Of the $6.5 million the Phillies receiveon season tickets, he said, $4.3 million is from business operators for such purposes as entertaining customers and clients. "When a company buys $1,000 worth of tickets the bottom line is $500," Giles said. "They pay taxes on half. If the reform goes through, the bottom line cost would be the whole $1,000," sales would slump and, well, no wonder, he says, baseball from Bowie Kuhn on down has joined in the drive to try to persuate the House Ways and Means Committee to leave well enough alone. That might help the Phils reach unprecendented 3 million attendance in 1978 -

The Winnipeg Jets, only publicly owned team in major league hockey, are in such dire straits in the World Hockey Association that they asked fellow WHA fanchises by conference call yesterday to let them try to switch to the National Hockey League. Otherwise the franchise folds and gets turned back to previous owners Ben Hatskin and Saul Simkin who are still looking for $1.2 million owned them from sale of the team four years ago. The NHL isn't saying whether it would take in Winnipeg, but the Jet's brass is saying the WHA is dying - "the days of the WHA pretending to be a major league are over" . . .

Open season on national letters of intent this week promptly produced oodles of names committed for college football. Suffice for now to mention that Crossland's All-Met tackle Keith Brown and Suitland running back Mike Cartwright will find as a fellow Penn State freshman prospect another of France Harris' little brothers: from Rancocas Valley H.S. in Jersey, Giuseppe Harris . . . And that Duke has signed perhaps the premier running back in Northern Virginia, All-Met Bobby Brower (18 TDs last fall) of Madison. . .

Reader Laura Knowles of Annandale, whose parents are Kansas State loyalists, rises to K-State fans' defense, sort of, for making monkeys of themselves with the banana attack on Kansas' basketball team. 'Twas retaliation for the grossness at Kansas last month, she notes, when Jayhawk rooters pelted State's flamboyant Brooklyn player, Curtis Redding, with hot dogs . . . The Southeastern Conference, wanting no part of retaliation, has ordered Georgia frontcouter Lucius Foster out of the season finale at Florida March 6 because of the fight he had at Athens Jan. 4 with the Gators' Malcolm Cesare . . . Ordered out of action for rest of the season - including the ECC playoffs involving American U - is the core of St. Joseph's basketball team. The school has suspended starting forward Norman Black, guard Zane Major and center Rob Valderas for breaking training (marijuana) . . .

The Atlantic Coast Conference indeed will use outside officials in the ACC basketball Coliseum. No reflection on the conference staff, says COmmissioner Bob James - "Rather, it has been to respond to the concerns of many that when ACC teams enter postseason play, the philosophy of officiating used by some officials assigned to those contests might well vary from ours and prove disadvantageous to our teams." By that token, James adds that until the NCAA goes to three officials, "it might be desirable to start using two men in (our) tournament. . ."

It's a bay boy for Fanfreluche by Secretariat. The celebrated mare back at Claiborne Farm, Paris, Ky., after her kidnaping last June and recovery in December foaled. Thursday night and held a news conference yesterday with her colt. Claiborne Farm owner Seth Hancock rated the baby in the "top 10 percent" of foals he's seen and added, "He looks a little like his daddy."