The D.C. Baseball Commission has decided to delay until next spring a season ticket drive aimed at supporting the area's bid for one of the two expansion franchises the National League will add in 1993, commission chairman Councilman Frank Smith (D-Ward 1) said yesterday.

The campaign, modeled after the commission's 1986 season ticket effort, was scheduled to have been formally announced yesterday to take advantage of heightened interest around World Series time.

However, Smith said organizational tasks, such as finalizing arrangements with area banks and getting promotional and application materials printed and distributed, could not be completed in time.

Smith said efforts did not begin "in earnest" until "maybe 30 days ago." The commission did not formally vote on the campaign until an emergency meeting Oct. 5 at which it also entertained proposals from two area public relations firms.

"We tried to do it. The commission did its part. We got all the necessary approvals," said Smith. "We just ran out of time. That happens every now and then in life."

The delay means there may no campaign at all. The NL Expansion Committee is scheduled to trim the field of 18 prospective ownership groups representing 10 cities to a short list of four or five finalists by the end of the year. Washington is represented by two groups -- one that would like to permanently locate a team at RFK Stadium and one that would like to begin playing at RFK Stadium, then move to a new facility in Northern Virginia.

"This is a critical time," Smith said. "Obviously I believe {a season ticket drive} would have helped some. But I'm not sure it would have made that big of a difference."

Smith has said the 1986 campaign resulted in about $9 million in deposits, representing commitments to purchase the equivalent of 15,000 season tickets. Smith said he believes most of the accounts remain active, but the commission's list of accounts has not been updated in about two years.