Exclusive: Bud Selig: the baseball commissioner's exit interview

Wed Jan 7, 2015 7:41am EST
 
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By David A. Kaplan

(Reuters) - Bud Selig, the ninth commissioner of Major League Baseball, retires later this month. He’s had many hits in his 22-year tenure: record revenues (nearly $9 billion this past season, up from $1.2 billion when he assumed office), record attendance at a score of new ballparks; and no strikes or lockouts in two decades. He’s had a few misses as well: the Steroids Era; the cancellation of the 1994 World Series, a tie in the 2002 All-Star Game; and an overall image that, however unfair, typically includes the modifier “bumbling” rather than “beloved.”

A baseball lifer, Selig was an owner at 35, buying the Seattle Pilots and moving the team in 1970 to Milwaukee, renamed the Brewers.(Four years earlier, the Milwaukee Braves had skipped town for Atlanta.) After baseball owners in 1992 forced Fay Vincent out as commissioner, Selig took over. Now 80, earnest and rumpled as ever, he spoke to Reuters contributor David A. Kaplan from his offices in Milwaukee. In a far-ranging conversation, they talked about Cuba, Lincoln, steroids, labor relations, legacy, Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe, and Derek Jeter. Edited excerpts:

REUTERS: So, what do you think now, some 22 years after your predecessor Fay Vincent derisively proclaimed himself “the last commissioner”?

SELIG: Yeah, he doesn’t do that as much as he used to, does he? I wonder what he thinks now when he sees the game as it exists today.

CUBA AND BASEBALL

Q: Did President Obama’s decision on Cuba come as a shock?

A: I don’t know yet what it means, but yes….Like all businesses, we are eager to hear what the change in policy means for our industry.   Continued...

 
Bud Selig speaks at a press conference before game two of the 2014 World Series between the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports - RTR4B8SA