Baseball’s past commissioners
When Rob Manfred takes office in January 2015, it will be the first time since 1992 that Major League Baseball will have a new commissioner. For this issue’s 3 up, 3 down, we decided to take a look into the past three MLB commissioners:
Before commissionership: Attended Yale, taught at Princeton and Yale. Also served ten years as president of Yale.
Reputation: Earned a reputation for preserving baseball’s traditions and values, emphasized the need to improve the environment for the fan in the ballparks.
Noteworthy: Created a deputy commissioner position, appointing Francis T. Vincent, Jr. Entered into an agreement with Pete Rose on August 23, 1989 that essentially resulted in Rose’s lifetime suspension. Giamatti died suddenly of a heart attack eight days afterwards, approximately five months into his tenure.
Before commissionership: Attended Williams College, received law degree from Yale. Was President and CEO of Columbia Pictures, Senior VP of the Coca-Cola Company.
Reputation: Led the way in baseball’s investigation of the gambling allegations against Pete Rose. Made it known that if he had the chance, he would eliminate the designated hitter.
Noteworthy: Had been in office only one month when the San Francisco Bay area was struck with a massive earthquake, disabling the City of San Francisco and post-postponing the World Series between the Giants and Athletics. Announced first expansion since 1977 (Colorado Rockies, Florida Marlins).
Before commissionership: Attended University of Wisconsin, served two years in the armed forces, worked in auto business upon return. Eventually became president of Milwaukee Brewers.
Reputation: Reached a labor agreement with the clubs and the MLBPA without a strike or lockout (first time in 30 years). Baseball will have gone 16 years without a strike or a lockout by the end of the current CBA, the longest period of labor peace in baseball history since collective bargaining. Also introduced drug testing policies as an effort to rid the game of PEDs.
Noteworthy: Unbalanced schedule, interleague play, revenue sharing, three-division formats, extra tier of playoffs/wild card(s), realignment, home field advantage in World Series to league that wins All-Star game. His 22-year tenure will be the second-longest in MLB history (Kenesaw Mountain Landis).
Selig was elected Chairman of the Major League Executive Council when Vincent resigned, giving him authority to rule over the MLB in the absence of a commissioner. He was officially elected commissioner in 1992.