MLB team owners meet to elect new baseball commissioner
BALTIMORE (AP) — Major League Baseball owners have begun two days of meetings that could lead to the election of Commissioner Bud Selig’s successor.
MLB Chief Operating Officer Rob Manfred, Boston Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner and MLB Executive Vice President of Business Tim Brosnan were picked by the seven-man succession committee as candidates and were slated to make presentations Wednesday to the delegations from the 30 teams.
Selig, 80, has ruled baseball since September 1992, first as chairman of baseball’s executive council and since July 1998 as commissioner. The former Milwaukee Brewers owner announced last fall that he plans to retire in January 2015.
Balloting is planned for Thursday and a three-quarters majority – 23 – is needed for election.
Owners have estimated Manfred has the support of 20-21 teams headed into the meetings, Werner of about six and Brosnan one: the Cincinnati Reds. The Major League Constitution specifies that the vote shall be by written ballot but doesn’t say whether each team’s vote remains secret.
Manfred, 55, has been involved in baseball since 1987, starting as a lawyer with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. He became MLB’s executive vice president for labor relations and human resources in 1998, received an expanded role of executive vice president of economics and league affairs in 2012 and last September was promoted to chief operating officer. He helped lead negotiations for baseball’s last three labor contracts with players and the joint drug agreement that was instituted in 2002 and has been repeatedly strengthened.
Werner, 64, was the controlling of the San Diego Padres from 1990-94 and has been part of the Red Sox ownership group since 2002. While working at ABC, he helped develop Robin Williams’ “Mork & Mindy” and later was executive producer of “The Cosby Show” and “Roseanne” at The Carsey-Werner Co., which he ran with Marcy Carsey.
Werner is supported by Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf and Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno. Other teams have said Reinsdorf wants a commissioner who will take a harsher stance in labor negotiations for the deal to replace the collective bargaining agreement that expires after the 2016 season.
Brosnan, 56, was hired by MLB as vice president of international business affairs in 1991, became chief operating officer of Major League Baseball International in 1994 and senior vice president of domestic and international properties in 1998. He has held his current role since 2000. A lawyer like Manfred, he has been a key figure in the negotiations of MLB’s national broadcasting contracts.
An initial deadlock would not be unprecedented.
Baseball owners had difficulty electing a successor to Spike Eckert, who was fired in December 1968. With the requirement then a three-quarters majority in both the American and National leagues, teams split between San Francisco Giants vice president Chub Feeney and Yankees president Michael Burke and failed to elect anyone during 19 ballots on Dec. 20-21 in a meeting that ended at 5:05 a.m.
Bowie Kuhn, a partner at the law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher and counsel to baseball’s Player Relations Committee, then was elected commissioner pro-tem on Feb. 4 with a one-year term. He was voted a seven-year term that August and remained in office until 1984, when he was replaced by Los Angeles Olympics head Peter Ueberroth.
Former Yale President A. Bartlett Giamatti took over from Ueberroth in 1989, died later that year and was replaced by his deputy, Fay Vincent. Selig and Reinsdorf headed the group that pressured for Vincent’s forced resignation in September 1992 and led to the 7 1/2-month strike in 1994-95 that canceled the World Series.