While the New York Yankees won the most, the Baltimore Orioles paid the most.

Baltimore's total bill for the three years of baseball's luxury tax was $10,643,897, according to management records obtained by the Associated Press.

The Yankees, who won the World Series twice in the three years of the tax, were second at $9,919,651, followed by Los Angeles at $2,712,672, Boston at $2,205,960 and Cleveland at $2,065,496.

Only three others teams wound up with bills during the three years of the tax: Atlanta ($1,795,582) the New York Mets ($1,137,992) and Florida ($139,607).

Teams received their bills for the last year of the tax Jan. 10, and they are payable Jan. 31. The tax went out of existence following the season. Owners, unable to get a salary cap, agreed to the tax in the settlement of the 1994-95 strike, hoping it would slow the rate of payroll growth.

For 1999, the Yankees had the high tax bill for the second time in three seasons: $4,804,081. They were followed by the Orioles ($3,475,048), the Dodgers ($2,663,079), the Mets ($1,137,992) and the Red Sox ($21,226).

While the Yankees finished with the best record in the American League and went 11-1 in the postseason, the Orioles were fourth in the AL East at 78-84 and the Dodgers were third in the NL West at 77-85.

The luxury tax is based on the average annual values of contracts of players on teams' 40-man rosters as adjusted each day of the regular season, and was assessed on the five biggest spenders at a rate of 34 percent on the amount of salary above the midpoint of the teams with fifth- and sixth-highest payrolls.

By shedding payroll late in the season, the Dodgers and Orioles cut their tax bills significantly.

Meantime, Orioles third baseman Cal Ripken's home town of Aberdeen, Md., will get a minor league baseball team, the Baltimore Sun reported yesterday.

Citing minor league sources, The Sun said Maryland Baseball Limited Partnership Inc. would announce Wednesday that its Aberdeen team will compete this summer in the Atlantic League. Ripken and his brother, Bill, will have prominent roles in the operation of the team, the Sun said.

Maryland Baseball owns the Bowie Baysox, Frederick Keys and Delmarva Shorebirds.

Paying the Price

Money paid by teams under baseball's luxury tax, which began for the 1997 season and ended with the 1999 season. Payments for 1999 are due by Jan. 31:

Team 1999/1998/1997/Totals

Baltimore $3,475,048/$3,138,621/$4,030,228/$10,643,897

N.Y. Yankees 4,804,081/684,390/4,431,180/9,919,651

Los Angeles 2,663,079/49,593/0/2,712,672

Boston 21,226/2,184,734/0/2,205,960

Cleveland 0/0/2,065,496/2,065,496

Atlanta 0/495,625/1,299,957/1,795,582

N.Y. Mets 1,137,992/0/0/1,137,992

Florida 0/0/139,607/139,607

Totals $12,101,426/$6,552,963/$11,966,468/$30,618,857