An emotional Commissioner Selig honored with new archival center at Hall of Fame

August 18, 2011
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig stands in the new archival center bearing his name. (Milo Stewart Jr./National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- After two days of activity, Major League Baseball wrapped up its August Owners Meetings, held at Cooperstown's Otesaga Hotel, around noon on Thursday. While no major news came out of the gathering, a major announcement by the Hall of Fame left Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig with a thrill of a lifetime.

In a press conference held in one of the Otesaga's meeting rooms, Selig began by sharing the day's activities to the assembled media.

"We had a very interesting meeting this morning, relatively brief. Maybe I'm getting better at running meetings," Selig joked. "We introduced our baseball historian, John Thorn, who made a very impressive presentation. (Exec. VP, Baseball Operations) Joe Torre gave a report on baseball operations, and that was interesting. (Exec. VP, Business) Tim Brosnan made a report on enterprises, Tony Petitti on the MLB Network, Bob Bowman on BAM (Baseball Advanced Media), (Exec. VP, Finance) Jonathan Mariner talked about baseball economics, and (Exec. VP, Labor Relations) Rob Manfred gave a report on labor."

But it was at a dinner held at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Wednesday night at which the creation of the Allan H. "Bud" Selig Center for the Archives of Major League Baseball Commissioners was announced.

"A lot of wonderful things have happened to me in my now very lengthy career but I must tell you when Jane (Jane Forbes Clark, Chairman of the Hall of Fame's Board of Directors) announced it last night I cannot tell you how much that meant to me," an emotional Selig recalled. "As all of you know who know me I have a great love of history. In fact, I sat last night until 10 o'clock at night going through four or five folders with newspaper clippings from the '40s and '50s. It was fascinating; it was great. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed it.

"I guess all I can say is it was a great moment in my career. And meaningful."

The new, permanent addition to the Hall of Fame Library features a private research space that celebrates the role of the Office of the Commissioner and pays tribute to the nine Commissioners who have guided Major League Baseball since Kenesaw Mountain Landis was named the game's first Commissioner in 1920.

Having now held Owners Meetings in Cooperstown in 1999 and 2011, Selig borrowed a famous quote that a military leader used in 1942 when asked if this small village in Upstate New York might host another such gathering in the future.

"I'm fascinated by the Hall of Fame," Selig said. "We're unique in that our history is really much more meaningful, without comparing to any of the other sports and other forms of entertainment, and here it is. This is where it is. And so there's so much to the history and so much to the tradition. This place is a treasure. It is an absolute treasure. And so I have a great love for this place. I'm glad we came and we'll be back.

"Douglas MacArthur once said, 'I shall return.' We shall return."

Bill Francis is a Library associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum