Selig takes in final Opening Day as Commissioner
Former Brewers owner fittingly attends Atlanta-Milwaukee game at Miller Park
MILWAUKEE -- Bud Selig fittingly enough attended what will be his last Opening Day as the Commissioner of Major League Baseball at Miller Park.
It was Selig who led the effort to bring big league baseball back to Milwaukee after the Braves left for Atlanta after the 1965 season. And it was Selig who fought a long and often bitter political battle to get Miller Park built, thus securing the future of the franchise.
Selig has announced that he will retire in January 2015. Selig was asked Monday if he had a "different" sense about his final Opening Day as Commissioner. "A lot of people are asking me that question about 'different,' and I think maybe toward the end of this year things will be 'different,'" Selig said. "I'll take it now as it comes, as the year goes on."
In the same vein, the Commissioner also rejected the suggestion that his view of the day would be "bittersweet."
"I don't look at it as bittersweet," Selig said. "It's a decision I made. I've had this job now for 23 years. My [baseball] career started in 1964 so I've been at it for 50 years."
Selig said that bringing baseball back to Milwaukee in 1970 remained his proudest achievement.
"There were 5 1/2 years to get the team, and no matter what has happened to me in my career, that will always be my proudest accomplishment," Selig said. "The odds were really stacked against us, I mean really stacked against us. It was no secret that baseball did not want to come back here. Milwaukee County had sued them. The state of Wisconsin had sued them. But it worked out."
Selig, the former owner of the Brewers, was asked if after he retired as Commissioner he would go back to being a Brewers fan.
"Now, don't ask me that question," he said with a smile. "The only thing I can say to you is obviously when we went through the 5 1/2 years it took to get [a team] and you go through all the other things, it's natural to have an emotional attachment. Walking in here today and looking at people and how excited they were, this is just a great baseball town.
"This is just a great baseball town, a really great baseball town. I'm always happy to be here."
Asked what he was proudest of in his tenure as Commissioner, Selig replied: "The economic reformation of the game, the revenue sharing. Remember, when I took over, there was no such thing. The small and medium markets were really struggling. You didn't have to be an economics major to understand that. And so [now] you have competitive balance, and you couldn't have that under the old system. The game is not what it once was. It's better."
Selig made himself available for an informal news conference during the Brewers' 2-0 victory over, coincidentally, the Braves. Earlier in the day, Mark Attanasio, the principal owner of the Brewers, had said that he was one of a group that was attempting to get Selig to stay as the Commissioner beyond January 2015.
Selig said that was not going to happen.
"I'm going to retire, I'm going to teach, I'm going to write a book, I'm going to do all the things I said," Selig insisted.
Just before the session with reporters came to a close, Selig, without being asked about this topic, said: "And I'm very proud of the Badgers."
This was a reference to the University of Wisconsin men's basketball team advancing to the Final Four. Selig is an alumnus of UW.
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.