Selig says he's comfortable about retirement

Tom Haudricourt
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Bud Selig knows better than anyone that most baseball commissioners leave office with folks telling them not to let the door hit them you know where on the way out.

"With a lot of commissioners, people were just glad they were gone," Selig said. "Almost none left on good terms."

Selig is the exception to that rule. In fact, in his final days in office, his dance card is quite full with commitments featuring various groups waiting to send him off with accolades, not acrimony.

Selig, whose term in office as baseball commissioner ends Jan. 24, oversees his final ownership meetings Tuesday through Thursday at the Sanctuary Camelback Resort in Paradise Valley, Ariz., just outside of Phoenix. On Wednesday night, he will be guest of honor at an exclusive dinner whose invitees include current and past owners, friends and family, and many baseball dignitaries including Hall of Famers Hank Aaron and Robin Yount.

"It's going to be quite a night," said Pat Courtney, MLB's chief communications officer. "People from past ownership groups are coming to see Bud and so many other people he has come to know in baseball. It's a real mix of people from the baseball world that are close to him, and it's meant to be a little more intimate."

On Saturday, Selig will travel to Los Angeles to be honored at the annual Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation Awards Dinner, a star-studded affair featuring luminaries from baseball as well as the world of entertainment. Usually at least 1,000 people attend and a good portion of the program will be a tribute to Selig.

Selig heads to St. Louis on Sunday for that city's annual Baseball Writer's Dinner, where he will be the recipient of that group's most prestigious honor, the Red Award, named after Cardinals legend Red Schoendienst. The award was created to recognize someone for invaluable service to baseball.

The following Saturday, Selig's last official day in office, he will attend the annual New York Baseball Writer's Association of America Dinner, featuring the likes of Sandy Koufax, Vin Scully, Derek Jeter, Cal Ripken and each of the individual award winners from 2014. There, Selig will be presented with the William J. Slocum Award for long and meritorious service to baseball.

The day before that banquet, Selig will meet with those who work in the MLB office in New York, where the commissionership will return upon his retirement. The day after the dinner, he will sit down for a one-on-one interview with PBS' Charlie Rose to discuss his years as the game's leader.

Selig admitted the hectic schedule will prevent him from sitting in his downtown Milwaukee office in the final days of his term and musing on the past, not that he was inclined to do so in any event.

"It will be a whirlwind. I won't be in my office a lot," said Selig, who will fill the new role of commissioner emeritus after turning over the reins to Rob Manfred. "I've still got a lot of things to do. It's mostly internal issues. The big stuff has been done and I'm grateful for that. There are no big decisions left. Rob and I talk many times a day, and we'll continue to talk."

Those who have interacted with Selig in recent days and months confirm that he is at peace with his decision to retire after nearly 23 years on the job. Asked if he anticipates melancholy feelings at his final ownership meetings, Selig said no.

"I'm really comfortable with it all," he said. "I made this decision and I'm happy with it. I have been very philosophical about it lately. It's emotional but I'm very comfortable with it.

"I thought long and hard about this. I'm really looking forward to the next chapter. The best way to describe it is comfortable. I can't really say I'm sad. Maybe I will be in two or three weeks but I don't think so."

Well aware of the fate of many of his predecessors, Selig admitted it is personally pleasing to go out being feted rather than tarred and feathered.

"This is a different departure," he said. "It's very gratifying, more than words can describe. "In life, there's always a time to come. But there's also a time to go. Some people will never quite understand that. For me, at age 80, with 50 years in baseball, this is a great time to go."