Keynote Interview and Major League Baseball Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
Allan H. (Bud) Selig was named the ninth Commissioner of Baseball on July 9, 1998, by a unanimous vote of the 30 Major League Baseball club owners. Prior to his election as Baseball’s Commissioner, Selig served as Chairman of the Executive Council and was the central figure in Major League Baseball’s organizational structure dating back to September 1992. Selig has led the way toward implementation of many of the game’s structural changes, including the Wild Card playoff format, Interleague Play, realignment, restoration of the rulebook strike zone and consolidation of the leagues’ administrative functions. In August 2002, Selig engineered an historic labor agreement with the Major League Baseball Players Association that avoided a work stoppage for the first time in 30 years and included meaningful revenue sharing among the clubs. In October 2006, MLB and the MLBPA continued the unprecedented era of labor peace by reaching a new five-year collective bargaining agreement. By the end of the agreement, baseball will have gone 16 years without a strike or a lockout, the longest period of uninterrupted play since the inception of the collective bargaining relationship. The significant changes to baseball’s economic system have helped the sport achieve competitive balance, made evident in 15 different clubs earning the 16 postseason slots available in the 2006 and 2007 seasons and seven different clubs winning the last eight World Series. In November 2005, MLB and the MLBPA announced another historic agreement to toughen its drug testing policy. The program was expanded again in April 2008. The policy, which is the strongest in professional sports, highlighted Selig’s long-term effort to try to rid the game of illegal steroids and other performance-enhancing substances.
In 2006, MLB and the MLBPA partnered to stage the inaugural World Baseball Classic, the most important international baseball event ever ventured, in which Major League players competed for their home countries for the first time. Selig’s active role in baseball, in the Milwaukee community and throughout the nation has resulted in numerous honors and awards during his career, including being the recipient of the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service in May 2008; he was given the Frederick Douglass Medallion from the New York Urban League for his work in promoting equality and fairness in New York City in May 2007; he was named Executive of the Year by the SportsBusiness Journal in December 2006; he was honored by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America in November 2006; he received the Champion of Youth Award from the Boys & Girls Clubs of America in June 2005; and many others. Selig is in the process of guiding the game through a significant renaissance. Major League Baseball has now set its all-time regular season attendance record in each of the last four seasons, culminating in an all-time high of 79,503,175 fans in 2007. Revenues have increased more than five-fold, from $1.2 billion in 1992 to nearly $6.1 billion in 2007.