Major League Baseball stated on Thursday that commissioner Bud Selig, who brought the sport into the 21st century, will retire from his position once his term ends in Jan. 2015.
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.
Selig, who turned 79 in July, was elected MLB's commissioner in 1998. He had served MLB as de facto commissioner on an interim basis since 1992 after the previous commissioner, Fay Vincent, resigned as a consequence of a no-confidence vote among the league's team owners. Prior to being named the chairman of the Executive Council of Major League Baseball, he was the majority owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, having purchased the Seattle Pilots franchise and moving the team to Wisconsin.
Among Selig's innovations were the institution of the wild card and divisional playoffs, generating interest from fans of teams that were not in the running for the league pennants. He is also credited with starting interleague play, leading to new rivalries and increased fan interest.
He also led the MLB through a performance-enhancing drugs scandal that has had repercussions on how professional sports leagues test their players. Throughout Selig's term, the MLB has enjoyed a relatively peaceful labor situation, a first for a league that has seen numerous strikes and lockouts.
On the management side, the MLB under Selig's tenure increased its total revenues, starting from $1.2 when he started as interim commissioner, to $7.5 billion as of 2012. This improved cash flow has allowed teams to implement new, improved revenue sharing plans. He has also come up with fiscal reforms that have helped the sport weather some of the worst recessions in recent memory.
Hall of Famer Hank Aaron has nothing but praises for Selig.
"He will leave our game in a far better state than when he started. The commissioner has been a marvelous leader for baseball. I am so proud of all that my friend has done for the game we love," Aaron said after the announcement was made.
The league and its owners have not yet met to decide on Selig's replacement, although a transition plan is currently in the works.
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