Selig declines push to be full commissioner Fellow owners reportedly want him to accept job

June 20, 1996|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

Milwaukee Brewers owner and acting commissioner of baseball Bud Selig said again yesterday that he is not actively seeking a full-time role as commissioner, despite a published report that other owners have stepped up their efforts to persuade him to accept the job.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, quoting unnamed baseball sources, reported in yesterday's editions that Selig might be close to reconsidering his reluctance to take the job and speculated that he would turn over his controlling interest in the Brewers to his daughter, Wendy Selig-Prieb, to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Selig, reached at his office in Milwaukee, denied that anything had changed.

"If you're asking me if I've changed my mind, the answer is no," he said.

Selig has been the interim commissioner since 1992, when baseball's ruling Executive Council forced former commissioner Fay Vincent out of office. There was speculation at that time that Selig eventually would assume the permanent role, but he denied any interest in the job.

The issue came up repeatedly during the lengthy baseball strike, but Selig continued to insist that he was not interested in giving up the day-to-day operation of the Brewers.

"Nothing has changed," he said. "My daughter was asking me today, 'Why is this such a big deal?' A lot of owners have put pressure on me to take the job, but I haven't changed my mind. I haven't even thought about it. Nothing is going to change until we have a labor agreement, then we will go out and look for a new commissioner."

Baseball owners were in no hurry to appoint a full-time commissioner during the strike, even though the game came under intense congressional scrutiny and appeared close to losing its antitrust exemption. The owners did not want an independent commissioner interfering with the labor negotiations -- as previous commissioner Peter Ueberroth had -- and asked Selig to hold the fort until a new collective bargaining agreement was in place.

The labor dispute still has not been settled, but it seems unlikely that more than a handful of owners would have any objection to Selig's assuming the full-time job while negotiations continue -- if he would agree to do so.

There apparently would be, however, at least one dissenting vote. Orioles owner Peter Angelos was Selig's most vocal critic during the 20-month players strike, and figures to oppose his appointment. Angelos has stayed out of the headlines since the strike ended, but he made it no secret at the time that he felt Selig's interim commissionership was a conflict of interest.

Those concerns wouldn't disappear entirely if Selig were to transfer the day-to-day control of the Brewers to his daughter. Selig is very popular among his fellow owners because of his ability to form a consensus and his tireless commitment to the business of the sport. He would require a 75 percent vote of the 30 franchises (including the expansion clubs in Tampa/St. Petersburg, Fla., and Phoenix) to be approved, but his approval -- if he decides he wants the job -- appears to be a foregone conclusion.

"He's been very popular among the other owners as far as his tour as commissioner," Colorado Rockies owner Jerry McMorris told the Journal Sentinel. "He's certainly at the top of the list [of candidates]. If he made the decision, I know he'd have substantial and overriding support."

The Journal Sentinel also quoted Brewers general manager Sal Bando, who confirmed that there is a movement among the owners to convince Selig to accept the job.

"There's no doubt in my mind, with Bud's experience as an owner, his involvement in the labor situation and his knowledge of the game, he is by far the best candidate and only candidate," Bando said.

Selig never said never, but he remains preoccupied with his club's uphill fight to build a new ballpark in Milwaukee, a project that has run aground and placed the Brewers' future in Wisconsin very much in question.

"I know that there are a lot of people in the game that would like me to take the job," Selig said. "I appreciate that they are supporting me, but there hasn't been any discussion. Everything is the same as it has been since 1992."

Pub Date: 6/20/96

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