Selig, Schuerholz reflect on Hall of Fame election
Former Commissioner, longtime executive will head to Cooperstown in 2017
By Barry M. Bloom
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- A day after former Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and longtime executive John Schuerholz were elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, it was time for reflection on Monday.
Both men were introduced and honored at the first media conference of the Winter Meetings. And as is the custom, both were presented with Hall of Fame jerseys by chairman Jane Forbes Clark, who told them that "this is the best uniform you're ever going to wear."
There were no arguments. The jersey has the block red-lettered insignia of the Hall of Fame across the chest.
Major League Baseball's ninth Commissioner and the current vice chairman of the Atlanta Braves were among 10 baseball greats -- five players, two managers and three executives -- under consideration by the 16-person Today's Game Era Committee, the latest iteration of the Veterans' Committee format.
The pair will be inducted in the Class of 2017 on July 30, along with anyone elected from the annual ballot sent last month to voting members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. The announcement of the rest of the class will occur on Jan. 18, and it will be broadcast live on MLB Network and MLB.com at 6 p.m. ET.
Selig, from his first season as interim Commissioner in 1992 to his last in 2014, was the man who read the inscription on the plaque and presented it each Hall of Fame inductee. Next year, he will be on the receiving end from his successor, Rob Manfred.
The next induction, coincidentally, falls on a very special day anyway.
"That's going to be an amazing moment in my life," Selig said afterward. "And by the way, the induction ceremony next year is on my birthday, my 83rd birthday. No sense in hiding that anymore."
As in any Hall process, it took 75 percent for election by the Today's Game Era Committee. In this case, that's at least 12 votes from the 16 ballots cast. After two years of no one being elected by several Veterans' Committees, Schuerholz was a unanimous choice and Selig received votes on 15 of the 16 ballots. It was the first time either of the men had been considered.
"This is certainly the most exciting moment in my life and my whole career," Schuerholz said. "And how fitting is it for me to be inducted along with Commissioner Selig? We have worked together on a number of major projects in Major League Baseball. Thanks for his assistance year after year. We got to know each other real well and developed mutual respect."
Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser and Mark McGwire, all no longer eligible for the BBWAA ballot, were among the 10 considered by the committee. The two managers on the ballot were Lou Piniella and Davey Johnson. George Steinbrenner, the late Yankees principal owner, fell short in his third time on the ballot of various Veterans' Committees since 2010.
The Committee format is the only way into the Hall for managers, umpires and executives.
Selig will be the fifth of MLB's 10 Commissioners to have his plaque hung in the Hall. The others were Bowie Kuhn -- elected in 2009, a year after his death -- Kenesaw Mountain Landis, Happy Chandler and Ford Frick. Selig will become the second Commissioner inducted in the past 25 years.
Selig, who led a group that moved the Seattle Pilots to Milwaukee in 1970 and renamed the team the Brewers, joins the Hall with several of his former players -- Paul Molitor, Robin Yount and Hank Aaron.
"I've been thinking a lot about this the last week or so," said Selig, who now has the title of Commissioner Emeritus. "Some of you who know me well know I was a little on the nervous side. But when I think of myself as a kid growing up, and in your wildest dreams, you couldn't imagine the things that would happen to me over the last 30 or 40 years and certainly the last 25.
"And so, not only is this the greatest honor I've ever received, but to be included in the Hall of Fame in a sport that I love, it's really left me almost speechless."
Selig presided over the most prosperous era in Major League history, the sport growing from $1.2 billion in gross revenue when he took over in 1992 to close to $10 billion at the time of his retirement on Jan. 24, 2015.
The growth all came in the wake of the strike that knocked out the end of the 1994 season and postseason, which has been followed by what will total 27 years of labor peace by the time the recently negotiated Collective Bargaining Agreement expires in 2021.
Under his guidance, the Wild Card era and Interleague Play began, not to mention the consolidation of the two leagues under one MLB umbrella. Jackie Robinson's No. 42 was retired throughout baseball in 1997 on the 50th anniversary of him shattering the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Selig had enough foresight to oversee the inception of MLB Advanced Media in 2001, and the league began instituting video replay in '08 to make sure calls on the field were correct.
"Back in 1992, given what I inherited, you couldn't have forecasted that this day would take place," Selig said. "But I had a lot of cooperation from people. We worked hard, and we accomplished a lot together."
As general manager of the Braves, Schuerholz oversaw one of the greatest eras in baseball history. His club won a record 14 division titles in a row from 1991-2005, including five National League pennants and the '95 World Series.
Schuerholz also won the 1985 World Series as general manager of the Royals. He benefited from a voting rule change made last summer that allows active executives to have eligibility for the Hall of Fame if they are at least 70 years old. Schuerholz is 76.
Manager Bobby Cox and pitchers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz have been inducted into the Hall from Schuerholz's Braves teams. Chipper Jones, another superstar from that era, will be on the BBWAA ballot for the first time next year.
Cox, who was in the room on Monday, was inducted along with Glavine and Maddux in a 2014 class for the ages that also included fellow managers Joe Torre and Tony La Russa, as well as slugger Frank Thomas.
"This is unbelievable, really good," Cox said. "Bud was a great Commissioner. The best ever in my opinion. And John? Right at the top of the greatest GMs ever. Two class guys."