Selig oversaw prosperity and both ends of Steroids Era

Thu Aug 14, 2014 7:02pm EDT
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By Larry Fine

BALTIMORE (Reuters) - He presided over unprecedented economic growth and instituted a slew of innovations as Major League Baseball commissioner, yet the reign of Allan “Bud” Selig may forever be linked to both ends of the Steroids Era.

Selig was MLB’s head man when the sport looked the other way as brawny sluggers rewrote the record book with a boost from performance enhancing drugs.

Later he become a crusader fixed on ridding the game of doping cheaters, ushering in the toughest drug testing and harshest penalties in North American professional team sports.

The 80-year-old baseball czar, whose 22-year MLB reign will end in January with newly named successor Rob Manfred taking over, had a similar arc when it came to labor peace with the players.

Selig was in the hot seat when a labor dispute with the players led to cancellation of the end of the 1994 season and wiped out of the postseason, including the World Series.

From that low point, Selig went on to forge a strong working relationship with the Players Association that has led to a stretch of 21 years of labor peace and agreements on drug testing, revenue sharing and a host of other successes.

The millionaire car dealer from Milwaukee, whose folksy demeanor suggests a rambling old uncle rather than a sports power broker, expanded the playoffs, introduced the wild card in baseball, brought in video replay and realigned divisions and the leagues with an unerring ability as a consensus builder.

Selig and his lieutenants launched a cable TV network, plied new media platforms and took revenues from $1.2 billion in 1992 to more than $8 billion by 2013 during a tenure second in years only to MLB's first commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis.   Continued...

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig speaks at a news conference in New York, November 22, 2011, to announce a new five-year collective bargaining agreement with the players that will allow play to continue uninterrupted through the 2016 season.   REUTERS/Mike Segar