Bud Selig

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Bud Selig : biography

30 July 1934 –

During Selig’s terms as Executive Council Chairman (from 1992–1998) and Commissioner, new stadiums have opened in Arizona, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Colorado, Detroit, Houston, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Arlington, St. Louis, Washington, D.C., New York City (Flushing, Queens and the Bronx), Minneapolis, and Miami.

Early life

Selig was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and grew up in a Jewish family. His father, Ben Selig, had come to the United States from Romania with his family when he was four years old. Selig graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in American history and political science in 1956. He served two years in the U.S. Army before working with his father who owned a car leasing business in Milwaukee.

Selig continues to be involved in the automotive industry, serving as president of the Selig Executive Lease Company.

Selig’s interest in baseball came from his mother. An immigrant from Ukraine, Marie Selig attended college, a rare accomplishment for a woman in the early 20th century, and became a school teacher. When Selig was only three, Marie began taking him and his older brother, Jerry, to Borchert Field, where the minor league Milwaukee Brewers played. When the Boston Braves relocated to Milwaukee in 1953, Selig switched allegiances, and eventually became the team’s largest public stockholder. Selig was devastated when he learned that the Braves were going to leave Milwaukee in favor of Atlanta. In 1965, when the Braves left Milwaukee, he divested his stock in the team.

Milwaukee Brewers owner

As a minority owner of the Milwaukee Braves, Selig founded the organization Teams, Inc, in an attempt to prevent the majority owners (based out of Chicago) from moving the club to a larger television market. This was challenged legally on the basis that no prior team relocations (in the modern era) left a city without a team. Prior movements had all originated in cities which were home to at least two teams. When his quest to keep the team in Milwaukee finally failed after the 1965 season, he changed the group’s name to Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club, Inc., after the minor league baseball team he grew up watching, and devoted himself to returning Major League Baseball to Milwaukee.

Selig arranged for major league games to be played at Milwaukee County Stadium. The first, a pre-season match-up between the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins, drew more than 51,000 spectators. Selig followed this up by hosting nine White Sox regular-season games in 1968 and eleven in 1969. One of the games played in Milwaukee that year was against the expansion Seattle Pilots, the team that would become the Brewers. Those Milwaukee "home" games were phenomenally successful, with the handful of games accounting for about one-third of total White Sox home attendance.

To satisfy that fanbase, Selig decided to purchase the White Sox (with the intention of moving them to Milwaukee) in 1969. He entered into an agreement to buy the club, but the American League vetoed the sale, preferring to keep an American League team in Chicago to compete with the crosstown Cubs. Selig turned his attention to other franchises.

In 1970, he purchased the bankrupt Seattle Pilots franchise, moving them to his hometown and officially renaming the team the Brewers.

During Selig’s tenure as club president, the Brewers participated in postseason play in 1981, when the team finished first in the American League East during the second half of the season, and in 1982, when the team made it to the World Series, under the leadership of future Hall of Famers Robin Yount and Paul Molitor. Under Selig’s watch, the Brewers also won seven Organization of the Year awards, although they posted one of the worst winning percentages in the history of Major League Baseball, over periods of ten years or more. Selig was part of the owners’ collusion in 1985–1987, resulting in the owners paying $280 million in damages to the players.

Upon his assumption of the commissioner’s role, Selig transferred his ownership interest in the Brewers to his daughter Wendy Selig-Prieb in order to remove any technical conflicts of interest, though it was widely presumed he maintained some hand in team operations. Although the team has been sold to Los Angeles investor Mark Attanasio, questions remain regarding Selig’s past involvement. Selig’s defenders point to the poor management of the team after Selig-Prieb took control as proof that Selig was not working behind the scenes.

Selig was elected to the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001.

On August 24, 2010, a statue of Selig, commissioned by Brewers owner Mark Attanasio and designed by artist Brian Maughan, was unveiled outside Miller Park in Milwaukee.

Teaching

Since 2009, Selig has been an adjunct professor of sports law and policy at Marquette University Law School. His classes have covered numerous topics, including "the history of collective bargaining and free agency, baseball’s antitrust exemption, revenue sharing – as well as finer points of sports law like intellectual property rights, ambush marketing, and why baseball does not allow game footage on YouTube."

In 2010, Selig endowed the Allan H. Selig Chair in the History of Sport and Society in the United States, as well as a Distinguished Lecture Series in Sport and Society at his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin – Madison. The inaugural lecture was given by Adrian Burgos and the search for the chair is ongoing, with an appointment scheduled to begin in August, 2013.