Robert Manfred named new Commissioner of Major League Baseball
By Ian Palmer
Major League Baseball (MLB) announced on August 14 that Robert D. Manfred Jr. will be taking over the job as MLB Commissioner from Bud Selig. Manfred won a unanimous vote 30-0 and will take over the sport’s highest office in January. He becomes the 10tht person to hold the commissioner’s job in the history of MLB. Manfred is currently the league’s chief operating officer and will take over from Selig on January 25. The 80-year-old Selig has been in the job for the past 22 years after being elected to the position back in 1992 .
Manfred said he was greatly honored by the confidence the teams owners had in him and realizes that he has some big shoes to fill once Selig leaves. He remarked that Selig has been a mentor and friend to him for the past 25 years and he wouldn’t be where he is today if it wasn’t for Selig. During Selig’s reign as MLB Commissioner, attendance has risen across the nation and several new ballparks have been erected. In addition, there’s now more parity in the league, the playoffs have been expanded, drug-testing is prominent, and instant replay has been introduced. But perhaps the greatest achievement during Selig’s tenure is the fact that here have been no labor disputes in the league over the past 22 years.
The 55-year-old Manfred was promoted to his current position in late September of 2013. Since then he’s more or less been regarded as the heir-apparent to Selig’s position. Over the past year he has overseen MLB functions such as finance, labor relations, club governance, baseball operations, and administration. However, MLB used a seven-person search committee to find two more suitable candidates. These were Tom Werner, the chairman of the Boston Red Sox and Tim Brosnan, the league’s executive vice president of business. But when it came time to vote, Manfred was eventually elected by a landslide.
The voting became a simpler process after Brosnan pulled out just before the first ballot. Brosnan claimed that he thought the process would be a lot more efficient if there were just two candidates instead of three. He added that MLB had a great run with Selig in charge and he believes it will continue under Manfred. Manfred took 22 of the 30 votes during the few ballots, but it wasn’t enough to hand him the job since he needed a minimum of 23. The owners then took a recess and Manfred was named on all 30 ballots the next time around.
Werner also backed Manfred and pledged to do everything he can to help support the new commissioner and to improve the game of baseball and MLB. Werner feels the league should concentrate on speeding the game up and try to attract younger fans to North America’s ballparks. He said he’d also like to see baseball become more popular internationally in the near future. Along with garnering the support of the franchise owners, the MLB Players’ Association also applauded Manfred’s appointment.
Tony Clark, the executive director of the players’ union, congratulated Manfred on behalf of MLB players and said he’s looking forward to working closely with him once he takes over. Clark commented that he’s known Manfred for over 15 years and he’s confident that he’ll serve MLB as well as he possibly can. Selig himself was also pleased with the result. He said there were some differences of opinion at the start of the voting process, but eventually everybody came together and voted unanimously for Manfred.