The 2010 Claxton Shield was the 57th Claxton Shield tournament, the premier baseball competition in Australia, and was held from 6 November 2009 to 7 February 2010. It was hailed as the precursor to the new Australian Baseball League that will start in the place of the Claxton Shield in late 2010 to early 2011. The Victoria Aces defeated South Australia two games to nil in the championship series to win the tournament; this was the 22nd time the Claxton Shield had been awarded to a Victorian team. The competition was sponsored by Domino's Pizza.
At the conclusion of the regular season, the Victoria Aces finished in first place with a 17–7 record, earning home-field advantage for the three-game championship series. South Australia hosted the three-game semi-final series against the New South Wales Patriots. Both teams finished with a 14–10 record. The Perth Heat (12–12) and Queensland Rams (3–21) both failed to qualify for the finals.
In June 2009, it was announced that the rights to the Claxton Shield had been sold to a new Australian Baseball League (ABL), with ownership split between Major League Baseball's 75 percent share and the 25 percent share owned by the Australian Baseball Federation. The 2010 tournament was considered preparation for the inaugural ABL season starting in 2010–11. It varied from the 2009 Claxton Shield by expanding the season to include ten rounds. Since an uneven number (five) teams were involved, four teams paired off for each round and played a three-game series, while the remaining team took a bye. During the season, each team had two bye rounds and played two rounds against each other team, one at home and one away. In total, the schedule allowed for 24 regular-season games per team before a postseason similar to the 2009 edition: the first-place team directly qualified for the championship series and played against the winner of a playoff series between the second- and third-place teams.
During the regular season, games were played on a Friday night and a doubleheader on Saturday; in each doubleheader one of the two games was shortened to seven innings. The exception to this was when Perth played their home games; they played on a Thursday night instead of a doubleheader on Saturday. Each postseason series was scheduled for a Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The 2010 series allowed each team to make use of a 19-man active roster. Exceptions were made in two cases that allowed teams' active rosters to expand to 21 players, both times for the same reason. Two games during the season had to be postponed because of poor weather. Both games involved teams meeting for the first time during the season; make-up games were scheduled at the start of the return series between the teams, and this resulted in two four-game series. In both cases, the teams had a 19-man roster for the make-up game, and an expanded 21-man roster for the originally scheduled series.
The 2010 Claxton Shield was contested between five teams from around Australia. In previous years, many of the teams had played their home games at multiple venues. This season each team held their home games at only one venue. There was one scheduled exception to this at the start of the season: the New South Wales Patriots' final home series against the Perth Heat was held at Gilchrist Oval, whereas all of their other home games were held at Blacktown Baseball Stadium.
As a result of poor attendance at Geelong Baseball Park, game one of the fifth-round series between New South Wales and the Victoria Aces was moved to La Trobe University, Melbourne. Although the Geelong games had attracted crowds of no more than 500, the moved game had an attendance of 2,200. Though no further regular season games were moved, the finals series hosted by the Aces was held at La Trobe University as well.
The venues are as follows:†—A game postponed from Round 7, held in Round 8, was played with Victoria Aces as the away team and Queensland Rams as the home team, despite being played at Geelong Baseball Park, Geelong, Victoria.
‡—A game postponed from Round 3, held in Round 9, was played with South Australia as the away team and Victoria Aces as the home team, despite being played at Norwood Oval, Adelaide, South Australia.
The Queensland Rams were the first team to be eliminated from contention for the finals, after being swept four games to nil by the Victoria Aces in round 8. The following round saw South Australia clinch a position in the finals, despite finishing the round in second position. It was not until the final round that the last two spots in the finals were decided: the Aces clinched top spot by sweeping the Perth Heat, which combined with the New South Wales Patriots sweep of the Rams eliminated Perth from contention and secured the last finals spot for the Patriots.
The 2010 Claxton Shield made use of the same finals structure as had been used in the 2009 season. The top three teams at the conclusion of the ten rounds of regular-season games qualified. The second- and third-place teams faced in each other in a best-of-three series hosted by the second-place team. The winner of that series then faced the first-place team for a best-of-three series. South Australia hosted the New South Wales Patriots at Norwood Oval, Adelaide, while the Victoria Aces hosted the championship series at La Trobe University, Melbourne. In the finals, the home team and away team alternated during each of the series. As a result, South Australia was officially the away team for game two of its series against New South Wales, as was Victoria in the championship series.
After defeating the Patriots two games to one in the semi-final series, South Australia progressed to the championship series against the Aces. There they were defeated two games to nil. After game two of the championship series, Victoria's Matthew Blackmore was named both Claxton Shield Final Series MVP and Pitcher of the Year.
At the conclusion of the finals series, the winner of two awards were announced. Matthew Blackmore won both the Pitcher of the Year award and the Finals Series MVP award. At the Baseball Australia Diamond Awards, held on 6 March at the Hotel Grand Chancellor, Adelaide, Wayne Lundgren was announced as the 35th winner of the Helms Award; the Claxton Shield's Most Valuable Player award. Lundgren was the first pitcher to win since 1986. Runners-up by two votes were Paul Mildren and Michael Collins.