B’nai B’rith International honored Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig with the Distinguished Humanitarian Award on Thursday in New York. The award recognizes efforts to help a local community or the world in a person’s personal or professional life.
Selig has led Major League Baseball for more than two decades while also supporting cancer research and environmental and educational activism. “We are not honoring the commissioner here today for his corporate achievements, we are honoring him for his deep commitment and tireless efforts that have touched millions of Americans,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said.
The Jewish group presented Selig with a tzedakah box and a jersey with “B’nai B’rith” emblazoned on the front.
“I am deeply humbled to accept the Distinguished Humanitarian Award from B’nai B’rith International, whose mission I have always admired and whose ideals are shared by so many of the men and women who are fortunate enough to work in the game of baseball,” Selig said.
Allan Huber “Bud” Selig is the ninth and current Commissioner of Major League Baseball, having served in that capacity since 1992 as the acting commissioner, and as the official commissioner since 1998. Selig oversaw baseball through the 1994 strike, the introduction of the wild card, interleague play, and the merging of the National and American Leagues under the Office of the Commissioner. He was instrumental in organizing the World Baseball Classic in 2006. Selig also introduced revenue sharing. He is credited for the financial turnaround of baseball during his tenure with a 400 percent increase in the revenue of MLB and annual record breaking attendance. Selig enjoys a high level of support from baseball owners, but has been widely decried by both the MLB Players’ Union for his policies and by the general public for presiding over the game during one of its most contentious periods. Jerome Holtzman, Major League Baseball’s official historian from 1999 until his death in 2008, believed Selig to be the best commissioner in baseball history.
During Selig’s term of service, the use of steroids and other performance enhancing drugs became a public issue. The Mitchell Report, commissioned by Selig, concluded that the MLB commissioners, club officials, the Players Association, and the players all share “to some extent in the responsibility for the steroid era.” Following the release of the Mitchell Report, Congressman Cliff Stearns called publicly for Selig to step down as commissioner, citing his “glacial response” to the “growing stain on baseball.” Selig has pledged on numerous occasions to rid baseball of performance enhancing drugs, and has overseen and instituted many rule changes and penalties to that end.
Selig was previously the team owner and team president of the Milwaukee Brewers. As a Milwaukee native, he is credited for keeping baseball in Milwaukee. In 1970, he purchased the Seattle Pilots in bankruptcy court and renamed them the Milwaukee Brewers after the minor league team of the same name he had watched in his youth, which existed until the arrival of the Braves in Milwaukee in 1952. The Brewers went to the 1982 World Series and won seven “Organization of the Year” awards during his tenure. Selig remains a resident of Milwaukee.
On January 17, 2008, Selig’s contract was extended through 2012, after which he planned to retire, but then decided to stay as commissioner until the end of the 2014 season, a move approved by the owners on January 12, 2012, which would take his leadership past his 80th birthday. Selig made $14.5 million in the 12-month period ending October 31, 2005.
Selig and his family served a supportive role on the Advisory Board of the Israel Baseball League during its inaugural season in 2007. In response to issues with the league’s financial management, after the season, the Selig family requested that their names be removed from the list of board members.
Selig is married to his second wife, Sue Selig. He has two daughters from his previous marriage, Wendy Selig-Prieb and Sari Selig-Kramer, as well as a stepdaughter, Lisa Steinman. Selig-Prieb used to work for the Brewers, and Steinman currently works for MLB. He has five granddaughters: Emily Markenson, Alyssa Markenson, Marissa Savitch, Andria Savitch, and Natalie Prieb.
Since 2009, Selig has been an adjunct professor of sports law and policy at Marquette University Law School. His classes have covered numerous topics, including “the history of collective bargaining and free agency, baseball’s antitrust exemption, revenue sharing - as well as finer points of sports law like intellectual property rights, ambush marketing, and why baseball does not allow game footage on YouTube.”
In 2010, Selig endowed the Allan H. Selig Chair in the History of Sport and Society in the United States, as well as a Distinguished Lecture Series in Sport and Society at his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin - Madison. The inaugural lecture was given by Adrian Burgos and the search for the chair is ongoing, with an appointment scheduled to begin in August, 2013.