Selig recounts many San Francisco memories

Selig recounts many San Francisco memories

SAN FRANCISCO -- Scheduled to retire in a little more than four months, Commissioner Bud Selig shared some singular memories involving San Francisco and the Giants franchise on Thursday.

Selig said he regards former Giants slugger Barry Bonds as the sport's all-time home run king. Bonds amassed 762 homers before retiring in 2007, eclipsing Selig's friend, Hank Aaron, who finished with 755.

Some have suggested that Bonds be stripped of the record or have an asterisk affixed to his name because of the performance-enhancing drug era. Selig indicated during a visit to AT&T Park, where Bonds hit 160 homers, that neither will happen.

"Barry Bonds set the record and that's the way it is," Selig said in a news conference during the 18th stop of his farewell tour. "One thing about being Commissioner, you get on a slippery slope when you start trying to change things the way they are."

The Commissioner also reflected on the Giants' near-departure of the Bay Area.

Selig was named chairman of the Executive Council in September 1992, serving essentially as the game's Commissioner (a title he gained officially in 1998). Selig recalled that the first telephone call he received in his role as chairman came from then-San Francisco Mayor Frank Jordan, who was striving to prevent the Giants from moving to Tampa-St. Petersburg for the 1993 season. A group from that region had agreed to purchase the team from Giants owner Bob Lurie. Shortly after hearing from Jordan, Selig fielded calls from various San Francisco businessmen who were part of the effort to keep the team in town.

"I'd say the story has a great ending," Selig said after a morning stroll around AT&T Park.

Selig was reminded of the Giants' ownership saga on Wednesday night when he was driven past Candlestick Park, the club's previous home, en route to his hotel.

"There's no team that could stay in Candlestick Park and succeed," Selig said, referring to the wind and weather that frequently made the place inhospitable.

The Commissioner related that while accompanying the Milwaukee Braves as a club stockholder on a 1963 trip to San Francisco, he attended the 16-inning classic between Juan Marichal and Warren Spahn that Willie Mays concluded with a home run. That game ended after midnight. Though the date was July 2, Selig was freezing.

"I was colder that night than [on] any January day in Milwaukee," Selig said.

Selig was also asked about the Oakland A's ongoing efforts to build a new ballpark, but said he couldn't comment specifically because of pending litigation. Earlier this year, the city of San Jose appealed a judge's decision to strike a key argument from its lawsuit against Major League Baseball over the A's plans to relocate to San Jose. The Giants hold territorial rights to San Jose, which has blocked an A's move.

"There is no question that the A's need a new ballpark," Selig said, comparing Coliseum, the A's home, to Milwaukee County Stadium and New York's Shea Stadium, two venues regarded as outdated in their later years.

"That's not a compliment in either case," Selig said.

Chris Haft is a reporter for Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.