MLB.com Columnist

Meggie Zahneis

Selig's impact goes far beyond Commissioner duties

Selig's impact goes far beyond Commissioner duties

Selig's impact goes far beyond Commissioner duties

He changed America's Pastime.

Ask anyone who spends a lot of time around baseball and they'll reel off any number of accomplishments that will help cement his legacy in sports history for decades to come.

Selig to retire

Instant replay. International baseball. Technology and TV coverage. PED testing and playoff formats.

They're all part of a resume that has made him the best Commissioner this game has ever seen.

But that's not the way I know Bud Selig.

Once upon a time, mine was one of the many fan letters that passed through his office. And now I write for MLB.com. And now, mine is one of the payroll accounts passing by his desk.

Yes, he is the man who gave this teenager the job of a lifetime. No flipping burgers or waiting tables for me.

But to me, he's even more than that. He's "Uncle Bud." He's the guy who I once had the privilege of spending an inning or two watching some October baseball with in a suite in Texas, at the 2011 World Series.

He's the man whose namesake chopped steak I sampled at Arizona's legendary "Don and Charlie's."

He's the one who introduced me to my cyber pen pal and real-life best friend, Natalie Prieb. Also known as his granddaughter.

He's the one who, based on an essay I wrote, created a new position at MLB.com for me to fill. He's the man who gave me the gift of belief in myself. He's the guy who empowered me to do something I couldn't have ever dreamed of.

Sure, his job gives him a tremendous amount of power and influence on the game, but he bears his stature with grace. That's the reason why everyone -- from club owners and executives to 16-year-old youth correspondents -- gravitates to him.

Bud Selig is just a regular guy. He likes hot dogs with lots of ketchup, eating the same thing for lunch every day, watching baseball and talking to people. He's encouraging, caring, personable.

He takes time out of his busy schedule to make you feel special. Doesn't matter who you are -- one in a mob of kids scrambling for an autograph or the kind of baseball legend whose autograph everyone wants.

He's oblivious to the mad dash that often follows him around: When you're with him, he makes you feel like the only person in the world.

He's the kind of man who uses his superpowers for good, not evil.

But how do I put it into words?

He's the man who changed my life.

Meggie Zahneis, winner of the 2011 Breaking Barriers essay contest, earned the job of youth correspondent for MLB.com in the fall of '11. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.