MLB.com Columnist

Mike Bauman

Legends Award honors Selig's philanthropy

Commissioner Emeritus feted for strides in diversity throughout game

Legends Award honors Selig's philanthropy

MILWAUKEE -- As Commissioner of Baseball, Bud Selig worked diligently on the issues of diversity and inclusion.

He initiated the Civil Rights Game. He pushed for the retirement of Jackie Robinson's No. 42 throughout baseball. He urged and prodded and eventually improved baseball's industry-wide record on minority hiring.

Now, as Commissioner Emeritus, Selig is still working from the same belief system, still trying to bring about positive change. That was recognized on Friday, when he was given the Legends Award by the 15th Annual Fellowship Open in an event before a packed house at the Silver Springs Golf Club. The central event for the Fellowship Open is a fund-raising golf outing that raises money for some indisputably worthwhile causes, helping Milwaukee children in need of help.

"This is a premier event," Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett said. "It really supports community organizations that create positive energy in the city, and every year they raise thousands of dollars and distribute that to groups that are helping kids who really need to get ahead in life. It's grown, and in many ways it's almost a national event now because it gets so much support and a lot of work goes into it."

"Seriously, I don't think I've ever missed one," said Barrett, who has been Milwaukee's mayor for 11 years. "It's that important. They really do a good job. They have different organizations that they honor. This year, obviously, they're honoring Commissioner Selig for all the work that he's done in the community, and it's a well-deserved award. I'm glad to see that he's being recognized."

Put together some previous winners of the Legends Award and you have the makings of a civic All-Star team. Other winners include Hall of Famer and baseball icon Hank Aaron, former NBA star and Milwaukee Bucks general manager Wayne Embry, Pro Football Hall of Famer and former Green Bay Packers great Willie Davis, and former U.S. Senator and Milwaukee Bucks owner Herb Kohl.

"It's a wonderful honor, and I really am honored," Selig said. "Joe Kennedy, who was a really good friend of Hank Aaron -- they went to school together in Mobile, Alabama -- was a founder of this event, and that alone tells you all you need to know about it.

"It's a wonderful group. This is a group that really gives kids wonderful opportunities that they wouldn't have but for this group. That alone says it all. It's a wonderful story of people giving kids who would not have an opportunity to get an education [a chance] to do things. This group has really done wonderful work, and I'm proud to be part of it.

"I'll do whatever they want. They brought a whole bunch of kids to my office a month ago, and I talked to them about life and education and what they should do. Wonderful group of kids. They were a marvelous group of kids."

Selig has made his reputation in this area of endeavor and has received numerous awards -- local, regional, national, even international. He is well beyond the level of needing to impress anyone with his record on diversity and inclusion. The reason that he keeps working in this area is the best reason of all: There is so much work still to be done.

"There is no question," Selig said. "You know how I feel about the whole Jackie Robinson saga. I'm proud of baseball, but there is so much to be done. All the work we can do to give people an opportunity that they would normally be denied, I think, is as fulfilling as anything one can do, in terms of philanthropy or anything else.

"There's a lot more to be done. We've come a long way, but we've got a lot longer to go. This [group] is a mechanism that will help, but nobody should rest easy that we've solved these kinds of problems in our country, because we haven't."

Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.