Selig, Schuerholz elected to Hall of Fame

December 4th, 2016

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Former Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and longtime executive John Schuerholz became the newest members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame after being elected on Sunday to the museum in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Major League Baseball's ninth Commissioner and the current president of the Atlanta Braves were among 10 baseball greats -- five players, two managers and three executives -- who were on the ballot under consideration by the 16-person Today's Game Era Committee, the latest iteration of the Veterans' Committee format.

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Selig and Schuerzholz will be inducted in the Class of 2017 on July 30 behind the Clark Sports Center, along with anyone elected from the annual ballot sent last month to voting members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. The announcement of the rest of the class will occur on Jan. 18 and be broadcast live on MLB Network and at 6 p.m. ET.

"I've done a lot of thinking in the last week or so. ... When I think of myself as a kid growing up, and in your wildest dreams, you couldn't imagine the things that would happen to me for the last 40 or 50 years, and certainly the last 25," Selig said at a news conference Monday at the Winter Meetings, where both he and Schuerholz were introduced and presented with their Hall of Fame jerseys. "And so this is not only the greatest honor that I've ever received, I don't think there's any question about that. But to be included in the Hall of Fame in a sport that I love, it really has left me almost speechless, and I'm not speechless that often."

The call to both men came from Hall chairman Jane Forbes Clark. Selig said he took it at his home in Milwaukee. Schuerholz was at the Winter Meetings set to get into full swing on Monday morning.

"When I got the call from Jane, it was a high honor, to say the least," Selig, now Commissioner Emeritus, said during a conference call shortly after the announcement. "Many of you [on the call] have lived with me throughout this and know how I feel. ... I consider myself to be very fortunate to have had a career in a sport that I love."

Schuerholz said he was also flabbergasted when he received the call, answering his cell phone, although he didn't recognize the area code or the number.

"I'm not often speechless, but at that time I was," he said. "I told her how proud and honored and how thrilled I was to be part of and welcomed into such an august group, the highest body and pinnacle of success in baseball. And now they've invited me to be a part of that? My heart has been beating at a very different pace than it has been for many, many years."

As in any Hall process, it took 75 percent for election by the Today's Game Committee. In this case, that's at least 12 votes on each of the 16 ballots cast. After two years of no one being elected by several different committees, Schuerholz was a unanimous choice and Selig, Commissioner from 1992 to 2015, received votes on 15 of the 16 ballots. It was the first time either of the men had been considered.

The players, managers and George Steinbrenner, the late Yankees principal owner, didn't meet the requirements. It was Steinbrenner's third time on the ballot of various Veterans' Committees since '10, and he received fewer than five votes.

Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser and Mark McGwire were the players, all no longer eligible for the BBWAA ballot. The managers were Lou Piniella and Davey Johnson.

All of the players garnered fewer than five votes, which was fairly consistent with their performances in short stints on the BBWAA ballot. McGwire, who lasted his full 10 years of eligibility, last year amassed just 12.3 percent. Piniella received seven votes and Johnson couldn't crack five on Sunday's ballot.

The Committee format is the only way into the Hall for managers, umpires and executives.

Selig, 82, will be just the fifth of MLB's 10 Commissioners to have his plaque hung in the Hall. The others were Bowie Kuhn -- elected posthumously in '09 a year after his death -- Kenesaw Mountain Landis, Happy Chandler and Ford Frick. Selig is only the second Commissioner inducted in the last 25 years.

Selig, who was the head of a group that moved the Seattle Pilots to Milwaukee in 1970 and renamed the team the Brewers, joins the Hall with several of his former players -- Paul Molitor, Robin Yount and Hank Aaron.

"I think back to how this all started," Selig said. "To think that here I am going into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. ... Only all of you who know me well can understand that, certainly my friends and family. Since I took the call, there's been utter chaos over here. There still is."

Schuerholz, as then general manager of the Braves, oversaw one of the greatest eras in baseball history, his club winning a record 14 division titles in a row from 1991-2005 (sans the '94 strike year), including five National League pennants and the 1995 World Series championship.

He also won the '85 World Series title in the same capacity with the Royals. Schuerholz took advantage of a voting rule change made last summer that allows active executives to have eligibility for the Hall if they are at least 70 years old. Schuerholz is 76.

"I'm very honored by this and it's the highlight of my professional career," Schuerholz said on Monday. "I've enjoyed some success in some organizations because of good people and I join the greatest good people in our industry in the Hall of Fame. So I'm very, very proud of that and honored by that, and I hope that I will live up to the standards that the folks in the Hall of Fame have set."

Manager Bobby Cox and pitchers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz have already been inducted into the Hall from Schuerholz's Braves teams. Chipper Jones, another superstar from that era, will be on the BBWAA ballot for the first time next year.

"This is remarkable for me," said Schuerholz, who was there in 2014 and '15 for the inductions of Cox and the pitchers. "I have great respect and admiration for our Hall of Famers, especially the recent inductees. That special group that I had a chance to work with and be with made it a thrill for me to be there when they were inducted. And hopefully Chipper will get in at some point. To know that I get to join them and Bobby in Cooperstown is a thrill beyond belief."

Selig presided over the most prosperous era in Major League history, the sport growing from $1.2 billion in gross revenue when he took over as interim Commissioner in 1992 to close to $10 billion at the time of his retirement on Jan. 24, 2015. And Selig said he was proud of that "economic reformation."

The growth all came in the wake of the strike that knocked out the end of the 1994 season and postseason, which has been followed by what will total 27 years of labor peace by the time the recently negotiated Collective Bargaining Agreement expires in 2021.

Under his guidance, the Wild Card era and Interleague play began, not to mention the consolidation of the two leagues under one MLB umbrella. Jackie Robinson's No. 42 was retired throughout baseball in 1997 on the 50th anniversary of him shattering the color barrier for good with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

And a sport-wide problem of players taking performance-enhancing drugs was finally tackled, with punishments for those in the Major and Minor Leagues testing positive.

Selig said that as Commissioner, he had to take the good with the bad.

"My job as the Commissioner was to solve that problem," Selig said. "And we did solve it in a way that I think nobody thought was possible. We did what I thought we should do. And I'm very proud of that, frankly."