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July 30, 2017

Allan H. "Bud" Selig

Cooperstown, New York

JANE FORBES CLARK: I would like to again invite the commissioner to join me for our next presentation, and if you would turn your attention to our video monitor for a short presentation about our third 2017 inductee, Bud Selig.
(Video shown.)
As chairman of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, it is my honor, Bud, to welcome you to the Hall of Fame family and to ask Commissioner Manfred to read the inscription on your plaque.
ROB MANFRED: Allan Huber Selig, Bud. Commissioner from 1992 to 2015, the first seven years in acting capacity before formally named by unanimous vote among all 30 owners in 1998. Presided over an era of vast change to the game on the field while extending its breadth and depth off of it. Fostered an unprecedented stretch of labor peace, introduced three-division play, and expanded the postseason. Under his leadership, umpiring was centralized and replay review was established. Celebrated the national pastime's pioneering diversity by universally retiring Jackie Robinson's number, 42. Bridge builder and devoted fan who returned baseball to Milwaukee as Brewers' owner before serving as second longest tenured commissioner.
JANE FORBES CLARK: Ladies and gentlemen, Bud Selig.
BUD SELIG: Thank you, Jane, Jeff.
I also want to take this opportunity to thank Whitney and Jon and everybody else in the Hall of Fame staff. You have been remarkable.
The Hall of Fame is the soul of baseball and reaffirms its beauty and timelessness. Thanks to your vision, your leadership, and your ability to tell our stories in exhibits and words. The Hall of Fame is a baseball treasure.
Congratulations to you, Tim, Pudge, and Jeff. You've earned your place amongst the legends of the game, and I'm proud to be part of your class and forever connected with you. And congratulations to my friend John Schuerholz. We've known each other for a half a century, and there's no one I or anyone in baseball hold in higher esteem. As countless people have said in the past couple months, you've set the standard we all strive to achieve. From a personal standpoint, I will be forever indebted to you for all the assignments you accepted over the years. You have poured your heart into them, your integrity, and your intelligence have enriched baseball for these past 50 years.
To Commissioner Rob Manfred, my friend, my associate, for these past 27 years, I thank you. I thank you for your wise counsel and for the great work that you did to help baseball reach the heights it enjoys today. As commissioner these past two and a half years, your vision to grow the game, engage more young people, extend the reach of our sport around the world will lead our great game to new heights.
And finally, to these Hall of Famers, I am honored to be in your presence. On your shoulders, this game became part of the fabric of our country, and we are forever indebted to you.
For so many years, I sat right behind where I stand now and watched as each new member would stand here and deliver remarks with the kind of emotion that comes with great happiness and fulfillment. Now as I stand here at this moment, I am humbled. I am deeply honored to receive baseball's highest honor.
I stand here amongst many friends, including the great Henry Aaron, my friend of 59 years, and I must say, one of the best, most decent and dignified people that I have ever known. I have become friends with Henry Aaron and other members of the Milwaukee Braves in the late 1950s. I remember once when the team was leaving on a road trip, first baseman Frank Torre asked if I'd keep an eye on his little brother while he was gone. Yes, that's when I met Joe Torre. We have been friends ever since. Joe, you turned out okay, and he'd be proud.
To see my guys here, Robin Yount, Rollie Fingers, and of course Paul Molitor, who would be here but is managing the Twins, brings back countless memories.
Robin, Rollie and Molly represented the Brewers in so many ways, Robin of course spending his whole career with the Brewers. You three were more than just players to me and the city of Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin. You are forever etched in the minds of Brewer fans, and you must say you are forever etched in the journey of my life.
In many ways, baseball has been my life. I got into baseball 53 years ago for the simplest reason of all: I wanted to bring Major League Baseball back to my hometown. I made it my mission, my quest, and I devoted five long years in a relentless effort. We would try and we would fail. We would try and we would fail. And we would try and we would fail. But we never quit.
And that day when the Brewers arrived, March 31, 1970, will forever be one of the proudest days of my life. I was able to do something I loved every day with great passion. I loved the baseball life. I loved living and dying with each game. I loved watching players come in as nervous rookies and grow and mature to become winners in all sorts of ways and to take their place on this stage.
I loved getting to know everybody, the field managers, ticket managers, players, scouts, sports writers, and of course the fans. And by the way, I love that the Brewers flourish today under the great care of Mark Attanasio. The Brewers and their fans in Milwaukee and throughout the state of Wisconsin are in very, very good hands.
I not only learned every aspect of the operation of a club, I learned about the myriad issues confronting the game. In September of 1992, after 23 years of running the Brewers, I was asked to become chairman of Major League Baseball's Executive Council, in effect, to be the interim or acting commissioner, yet I saw it only as a temporary assignment I was sure would last only two to four months.
Baseball's issues in the '70s, '80s and early '90s were troubling. We were a game divided. Everywhere you turned there was rancor and adversity. Big markets versus small markets, American League owners versus National League owners, worst of all, owners versus players. We were a game truly stuck in neutral.
Success came from working together. The unprecedented success we've achieved over these past 25 years has come from ending the divide, from building harmony, from working as one for the good of the game. The role of the commissioner has dramatically changed from its early days. You have to build consensus. You have to persuade people to do what is good for the game.
Baseball is an institution that has been in our culture like few others. Because of this fact, baseball has been historically resistant to change. We needed a new economic system. Baseball's economics had not changed since the 1930s, but the forces operating within this system had been transformed. The perpetual reserve rule was replaced by arbitration and later free agency. The advent of cable injected new revenue into the game and increased disparity. The economic system from the 1930s could not handle these changes, and it became an anachronism. We needed to restore hope and faith to fans of every team, not just the ones who played in the larger cities.
We went through a terribly painful period to institute a new economic system. The 1994 strike was the most painful experience of my life. I began to experience what Harry Truman meant when he said, "The buck stops here." I experienced that during the strike. I experienced it again later when it became apparent that the players' use of performance enhancing substances was undermining the integrity of the game. I can tell you that having the buck stop at your desk is not necessarily a good feeling, but it is a responsibility that comes with positions of leadership.
Ultimately, we did bring about economic reformation, and it has benefitted the players, the clubs, and the fans. Working together, we created substantial revenue sharing amongst the clubs, taxes designed to reduce payroll disparity, and debt rules designed to promote financial stability. As a result, every single Major League team has played October baseball since 2001, and hope and faith have been restored.
We desperately needed a drug testing program, and we had to work together to get it done. While the process was more difficult and time-consuming than I would have liked. In the end, baseball and the Players Association developed a program that is the gold standard for sports and business alike. We needed labor peace, and we have made agreements that ensure at least 27 years of labor peace through 2021. I don't know that any of us could have foreseen such harmony after the decades of anger and discord that preceded these.
I cannot leave the topic of labor without saying a word about a special individual: Michael Weiner. Michael was a man of principle, a man of intellect, and a man of vision. The progress that we made in labor would not have been possible without him, and his death was certainly way too premature.
I've long been inspired by the words of George Bernard Shaw who wrote, "You see things and you say why, but I dream things that never were and I say why not." And by working together, working in harmony we were able to grow the game with more innovations than we ever had.
We are at the forefront of a technological revolution creating Major League Baseball Advanced Media, or BAM for short. It's one of the greatest stories in American business. It has dramatically improved the way our fans all over the world can enjoy baseball.
These have been wonderful innovations for our fans. They would not have been possible without the leadership of Bob Bowman at BAM, and Tony Petitti at the MLB Network, nor could any of these accomplishments have taken place without the brilliant work, ideas and trust of people in our office like Pat Countney, Dan Halem, Bob Starkey, and all of the dedicated people in the offices of Major League Baseball.
I owe so much to so many friends, many of whom are here today, many owners and executives that have made great contributions to so many areas of our game and who are responsible for the success that we have had.
I wish I could name you all, but you know how much your presence here today means to me. I want to thank some people who are no longer with us: The late Detroit Tiger owner John Fetzer was a mentor. He taught me early on that if you do what's in the best interest of the game, no matter how painful, no matter how unpopular at the time, all related parties will benefit, and the game will, as well. It has been a key to our game's success.
I also dearly loved Carl Pohlad, owner of the Minnesota Twins. And yes, as I stand here today, I miss George Steinbrenner. We never agreed on anything in 40 years, but we remain great friends through the entire time, and I must say, he was incredibly cooperative during my tenure as commissioner.
I also miss one of the dearest friends I ever had in baseball, the late Bart Giamatti. He had so much wisdom and passion for the game. He so often said that baseball is a metaphor for life, and that is true. It is also true that baseball is a social institution with social responsibility, and it is in that area where I am most proud of the role baseball has played.
The beginning of World War II, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt urged Commissioner Mountain Landis to keep playing baseball. He said Americans would be working harder and longer than ever before, and that baseball would provide respite from the daily news of war.
In that same way I'm proud of the role baseball played in our nation's recovery from the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Our players did magnificent work in assisting recovery efforts and providing the families of victims with whatever measure of comfort they could.
We did something beautifully American: We played baseball. We steered the conversation at least for a couple hours a day to games, pennant races, and an unforgettable World Series with our nation's leader, the President of the United States, standing proudly and courageously on the mound in Yankee Stadium.
The World Series was a great American spectacle that had as much positive sociological influence as anything I've seen in my lifetime. Baseball in its small way helped this country heal. 2001 was a reaffirmation that baseball was a social institution with social responsibility. The social responsibility is why we now honor Jackie Robinson every April 15, why we retired his jersey No. 42 in perpetuity, his breaking of baseball's color line did not change the sport, it changed our country.
April 15, 1947, remains the single most important day in baseball history.
Jackie will live in our hearts forever, and Rachel and Sharon and David Robinson have carried Jackie's torch for the last half century. Their contributions to the Jackie Robinson foundation have opened doors for hundreds of young people to attend college, as you heard yesterday from Rachel.
In an effort to continue Jackie's legacy, baseball has created programs like a diverse business partners' program, which has funneled tens of millions of dollars to minority and women-owned businesses. We've embraced the responsibility of providing playing opportunities to diverse populations in under served areas through reviving baseball in the inner cities and MLB Academies that we continue to open around the country.
The MLB Academies are a special point of pride. They not only provide great baseball instruction, but they also have tutoring and mentorship programs and making sure young people understand there are many careers in baseball. We prepare them for front office positions, broadcasting jobs, opportunities in every area, from scouting to groundbreaking.
We created the Selig Rule to diversify our game on the field and in the front office, and I was proud when other sports followed. I wanted to thank also Frank Robinson for the key role he has played in this and many other areas. You did remarkable work.
It is essential that everyone in our country and everyone in the world have the opportunity to discover the joys of baseball. Our sociological impact has transcended our sport. We partnered with the entertainment industry foundation to create Stand Up to Cancer. We created our Welcome Back Veterans program, and we have enjoyed a great relationship with Habitat For Humanity and many other philanthropies. The impact of baseball on our society from Jackie Robinson to the Major Leagues who come from no less than 16 other countries today has been a remarkable absolute achievement, and we are very, very proud of that.
Today I am enjoying a new chapter in my life. I've always dreamed of being a history professor, and after this long and wonderful detour in baseball, my dreams have come true. I now teach the history of baseball in American society since World War II, yet I never dreamed that I would play such a role in the history that I teach. I teach at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, my alma mater, as well as Marquette Law School and Arizona State University. The students are smart, wonderful, curious, and infuse me with energy. And then at night I still find myself in front of a television set watching every baseball game I can. It really has been a remarkable journey.
One day a few years ago, Henry Aaron and I were walking back to our hotel in Washington, D.C., and he said to me, who could have imagined when we met back in 1958 that one day I'd break Babe Ruth's record and you'd be the commissioner of baseball. Yes, this really is an overwhelming day in every way.
I will be forever grateful to my wife Sue for joining me on this journey for the past 40 years. She has been an extraordinary partner and helpful in every way. And to my daughters Sari, Wendy and Lisa, along with those five granddaughters, and my new great grandson, a constant source of love and joy.
I was blessed to have extraordinary parents. It was my mother Marie who nurtured my love of baseball, a passionate fan, she took me to games in Milwaukee, Chicago, New York and Boston. It was a great way to grow up.
My father Benjamin loved baseball, as well. He taught me so much about business, about values, and about always trying to do the right thing. If they were here today, I know they'd be proud of this journey.
As a kid, I read the newspapers, studied box scores, memorized statistics, dreamed the dreams that little boys dream, and on my last night as commissioner, I gave a speech at the New York Baseball Writers dinner, and I said, just really off the top of my head at the end, "What you've seen here today are a little boy's dreams that came true." Thank you for this magnificent honor.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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