By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated April 21, 2003 12:00 PM

Baseball Hall of Fame president Dale Petroskey apparently has three strikes against him — from some 28,000 people who voiced their outraged over his cancellation of a 15th-anniversay tribute to the popular baseball movie “Bull Durham.”

Petroskey called off the celebration because two of its stars, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, had spoken out against the war in Iraq.

So Petroskey has now apologized. Sort of.

The Hall president admitted Friday that he made a mistake, saying he should have contacted the actors first last week before he publicly shot down the “Bull Durham” celebration because of their stance, the Associated Press reports.

In an open letter to the 28,000 people who either called or sent a letter or e-mail to the Hall in the wake of his action, Petroskey, a former aide to President Ronald Reagan, blamed himself for bringing politics into the shrine.

“I inadvertently did exactly what I was trying to avoid,” Petroskey wrote. “With the advantage of hindsight, it is clear I should have handled the matter differently.

“I am sorry I didn’t pick up the phone to have a discussion with Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon rather than sending them a letter.”

Petroskey did not comment on whether he considers himself right or wrong to have scrapped the “Bull” event, which was to take place next weekend. But he did admit that this latest letter was faxed to Robbins and Sarandon before it was posted on the Hall’s Web site.

“Because Petroskey’s actions resulted in a bipartisan, nationwide affirmation of free speech and the First Amendment, he has inadvertently done us all a favor,” Robbins responded in a statement.

“I appreciate Petroskey’s non-apology apology and his realization of the perils of paper trails,” the actor, 44, added.