The Commissioner of Baseball is the chief executive of Major League Baseball (MLB) and the associated Minor League Baseball (MiLB) – a constellation of leagues and clubs known as organized baseball. Under the direction of the Commissioner, the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball hires and maintains the sport's umpiring crews, and negotiates marketing, labor, and television contracts. The commissioner is chosen by a vote of the owners of the teams. The current commissioner is Rob Manfred, who assumed office on January 25, 2015.
|Commissioner of Baseball|
since January 25, 2015
|Inaugural holder||Kenesaw Mountain Landis|
The title "commissioner", which is a title now applied to the heads of several other major sports leagues as well as baseball, derives from its predecessor office, the National Commission. The National Commission was the ruling body of professional baseball starting with the National Agreement of 1903, which made peace between the National League and the American League (see History of baseball in the United States). It consisted of three members: the two League presidents and a Commission chairman, whose primary responsibilities were to preside at meetings and to mediate disputes. Although the Commission chairman August Herrmann was the nominal head of major league baseball, it was AL President Ban Johnson who dominated the Commission.
The event that would eventually lead to the appointment of a single Commissioner of Baseball was the Black Sox Scandal — perhaps the worst of a series of incidents in the late 1910s that jeopardized the integrity of the game. However, the motivations behind the creation of the Commissioner's office were more than the mere desire to rebuild public relations. The scandal had not only tarnished the image of baseball, but had brought relations between team owners and AL President Johnson to a breaking point. In particular, Chicago White Sox owner Charles Comiskey was incensed at what he perceived to be Johnson's indifference to his suspicions that the 1919 World Series had been thrown. As a result, the National League, whose owners had never been on good terms with Johnson, agreed to invite the White Sox along with the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees to join their league. The NL also unveiled plans to put a twelfth team in Detroit.
With the American League's status as a major league and possibly its very existence suddenly in jeopardy, the five AL owners loyal to Johnson sued for peace. Eventually, at the urging of Detroit Tigers owner and Johnson loyalist Frank Navin, a compromise was reached in late 1920 to reform the National Commission with a membership of non-baseball men.
Having agreed to appoint only non-baseball men to the National Commission, the owners tapped federal judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, an ardent baseball fan, to serve as the reformed commission's chairman. Landis responded by declaring that he would only accept an appointment as sole commissioner, with nearly unlimited authority to act in the "best interests of baseball" — in essence, serving as an arbitrator whose decisions could not be appealed. Finally, Landis insisted on a lifetime contract. The owners, still reeling from the perception that the sport was crooked, readily agreed.
Landis's first significant act was to deal with the Black Sox scandal. Following a trial, the eight players suspected of involvement in the fix were acquitted, including Buck Weaver and superstar Shoeless Joe Jackson. Nevertheless, immediately following the players' acquittal, Landis banned them all from baseball for life. He famously declared, "Regardless of the verdict of juries, no player who throws a ballgame, no player that undertakes or promises to throw a ballgame, no player that sits in conference with a bunch of crooked players and gamblers where the ways and means of throwing a game are discussed and does not promptly tell his club about it, will ever play professional baseball." Landis explained that even though the players had all been acquitted in court, none of them could be allowed back in the game if its image was to be restored with the public.
Over the years, he dealt harshly with others proven to have thrown individual games, consorted with gamblers or engaged in actions that he felt tarnished the image of the game. Among the others he banned were New York Giants players Phil Douglas and Jimmy O'Connell, Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Gene Paulette, Giants coach Cozy Dolan, and (in 1943) Phillies owner William D. Cox. He also formalized the unofficial banishments of Hal Chase and Heinie Zimmerman. In 1921, he banned Giants center fielder Benny Kauff even though he had been acquitted of involvement in a car theft ring. Nonetheless, Landis was convinced Kauff was guilty and argued that players of "undesirable reputation and character" had no place in baseball.
The owners had initially assumed that Landis would deal with the Black Sox Scandal and then settle into a comfortable retirement as the titular head of baseball. Instead, Landis ruled baseball with an iron hand for the next 25 years. He established a fiercely independent Commissioner's Office that would go on to often make both players and owners miserable with decisions that he argued were in the best interests of the game. He worked to clean up the hooliganism that was tarnishing the reputation of players in the 1920s, and inserted his office into negotiations with players, where he deemed appropriate, to end a few of the labor practices of owners like Charles Comiskey that had contributed to the players' discontent. He also personally approved broadcasters for the World Series.
Landis's only significant rival in the early years was longtime American League founder and president Ban Johnson, who had been reckoned as the most powerful man in the game before Landis's arrival. Johnson was as strong-willed as Landis, and a clash between the two was inevitable. It happened in the 1924 World Series. When several Giants were implicated in a plan to bribe players on the moribund Phillies late in the season, Johnson demanded that the Series be canceled, and loudly criticized Landis's handling of the affair, to which Landis responded by threatening to resign. The American League owners promised to throw Johnson out of office if he stepped out of line again. Two years later, when Johnson criticized Landis's decision to give Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker an amnesty after it surfaced they had bet on a fixed game in 1919, Landis told the American League owners to choose between him and Johnson. The owners promptly sent Johnson on a sabbatical from which he never really returned.
Landis perpetuated the color line and prolonged the segregation of organized baseball. His successor, Happy Chandler, said, "For twenty-four years Judge Landis wouldn't let a black man play. I had his records, and I read them, and for twenty-four years Landis consistently blocked any attempts to put blacks and whites together on a big league field." Bill Veeck claimed Landis prevented him from purchasing the Phillies when Landis learned of Veeck's plan to integrate the team. The signing of the first black ballplayer in the modern era, Jackie Robinson, came less than a year after Landis's death on Chandler's watch and was engineered by one of Landis's old nemeses, Branch Rickey. Eleven weeks after Robinson's debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Veeck became the first American League owner to break the color line.
Landis tried to curb the growth of minor league farm systems by innovators such as Rickey, in the name of protecting the lower levels of professional ball. Landis argued that because a parent club could unilaterally call up players from teams which were involved in pennant races, the organization was unfairly interfering with the minor competitions. His position was that the championship of each minor league was of no less importance than the championships of the major leagues, and that minor league fans and supporters had the right to see their teams competing as best they could.
On the other hand, Landis prevented the formation of a powerful third major league when he stopped Pants Rowland from upgrading the Pacific Coast League in the 1940s. Furthermore, (and despite the fact that, insofar as he was accountable at all, it was strictly to major league owners) Landis did not hesitate to aggressively use the powers of his office to force the minor leagues and their clubs to submit to his authority in a number of ways. Most notably, he uncompromisingly held to a policy that dictated any minor league player who knowingly played with or against a player banned by Major League Baseball would himself be banned from MLB for life. This threat effectively compelled every minor league to rigidly honor and enforce suspensions handed down by Landis in their competitions as well. Nevertheless, some players banned by Landis are believed to have continued playing under assumed identities at the minor league or semi-professional level.
One of the schemes Landis vigorously fought was the effort by major-league teams to "cover up" players they were hiding in their farm systems. The term, not used in formal communications by league or team officials, referred to players clandestinely signed by a major-league team to a minor-league contract. Occasionally one team would serendipitously find such a player in the off-season draft, as in this occasion recorded in the book Dodger Daze and Knights:
All the clubowners and managers, and Commissioner Landis, were assembled to conduct the draft. One team representative said he "claim[s] Player [Paul] Richards of Brooklyn."
"Why not?" asked Landis.
"Because Brooklyn has him covered up", sputtered Robbie.
Most of the others broke down laughing. Even Landis smirked.
Whether his decisions were praised or criticized, he was satisfied with being respected and feared. Dubbed "the baseball tyrant" by journalists of the day, his rule was absolute. In the context of ensuring the integrity of the game itself, baseball historians generally regard him as the right man at the right time when appointed, but also as a man who perhaps held office too long.
He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1944, in a special election held one month after his death, and the Most Valuable Player Award in each league is officially known as the Kenesaw Mountain Landis Award in his honor.
When Judge Landis died in 1944, an official in the War Department began campaigning for Happy Chandler's election to the post. Despite being the last candidate put forth in the April 1945 meetings, he was elected by a unanimous vote of the team owners, and resigned his Senate seat in October of that year.
Chandler clashed with Brooklyn Dodgers manager Leo "the Lip" Durocher over Durocher's association with gambling figures and his marriage to actress Laraine Day, which came amid allegations from Day's ex-husband that Durocher had stolen her away from him. Before the start of the 1947 season, Chandler suspended Durocher for the entire season, citing "conduct detrimental to baseball." The Dodgers went on to win the pennant that season under replacement manager Burt Shotton.
Chandler became known as "the players' commissioner" for his work on their behalf. During his service, he presided over the establishment of a pension fund for players and oversaw the initial steps toward integration of the major leagues, beginning with the debut of Jackie Robinson with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. This move was controversial with team owners, who voted 15–1 against integrating the sport in a secret January 1947 meeting. The Dodgers' Branch Rickey met with Chandler, who agreed to back the team's move. Chandler's stance was credited by many in the sports community with Chandler's failure to be selected for another term as Commissioner after the expiration of his first one in 1951.
Chandler was fully aware that he was jeopardizing his own commissionership by stewarding the integration process. Chandler's attitude was a simple one, which he conveyed to Branch Rickey, and later recounted in his autobiography:
Frick's most highly criticized statement as commissioner was made in 1961, when several players were on a pace to break Babe Ruth's single-season home run record. In a press conference, Frick stated that the single-season home run record should be separated into multiple lists, based on length of season. However, as MLB did not publish an official record book at the time, Frick had no control on how publishers presented MLB records, and within a few years after Roger Maris broke Ruth's record, all record books gave Maris sole credit as the single-season home run record holder. Later, it was revealed that Frick had served as a ghostwriter for Ruth earlier in his career.
Frick successfully prevented the Continental League, a proposed third major league, from ever playing, and introduced major league baseball to several markets in which the proposed league planned to play through expansion and relocation.
More than 150 names appeared on the original list of nominees for the commissionership following Ford Frick's retirement. The club owners initially were unable to decide if the next commissioner should come from the ranks of the game (e.g., the president of the American or National Leagues), or elsewhere. They finally decided that the new commissioner should have a strong business background to deal with the problems that were confronting the game at the time.
William Eckert became a serious candidate for the commissionership only after fellow officer Curtis LeMay gave Major League Baseball a recommendation for him. On November 17, 1965, by a unanimous vote of the then, 20 major league club owners, William Eckert became the fourth Commissioner of Major League Baseball.
When he became commissioner, Eckert had not seen a game in person in over 10 years. He was a compromise choice for the job, previously being so obscure that sportswriters nicknamed him "the Unknown Soldier."
He incurred the public's ire by refusing to cancel games after the assassinations of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and team owners' disdain because he refused to deal forcefully with substantive business issues. Anticipating a players' strike and having no ownership confidence in his ability to handle the situation, Eckert was forced to resign at the end of the 1968 season, although he still had three years on his contract.
In spite of his much publicized failures and shortcomings, William Eckert also developed more effective committee actions, streamlined business methods and helped stabilize franchises with bigger stadiums and long-term leases. In addition, Eckert worked hard toward promoting the game internationally, including a 1966 tour of Japan by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Bowie Kuhn's tenure was marked by labor strikes (most notably in 1981), owner disenchantment, and the end of baseball's reserve clause, yet baseball enjoyed unprecedented attendance gains (from 23 million in 1968 to 45.5 million in 1983) and television contracts during the same time frame.
Kuhn suspended numerous players for involvement with drugs and gambling, and took a strong stance against any activity that he perceived to be "not in the best interests of baseball."
In 1970, he suspended star Detroit Tigers pitcher Denny McLain indefinitely (the suspension was later set at 3 months) due to McLain's involvement in a bookmaking operation, and later suspended McLain for the rest of the season for carrying a gun. He barred both Willie Mays (in 1979) and Mickey Mantle (in 1983) from the sport due to their involvement in casino promotion; neither was directly involved in gambling, and both were reinstated by Kuhn's successor Peter Ueberroth in 1985.
On October 13, 1971, the World Series held a night game for the first time. Kuhn, who thought that baseball could attract a larger audience by featuring a prime time telecast (as opposed to a mid-afternoon broadcast, when most fans either worked or attended school), pitched the idea to NBC. An estimated 61 million people watched Game 4 on NBC; TV ratings for a World Series game during the daytime hours would not have approached such a record number. Kuhn's vision in this instance has been fulfilled, as all the World Series games are now shown in prime time.
On October 7, 1969, the St. Louis Cardinals traded Curt Flood, catcher Tim McCarver, outfielder Byron Browne, and left-handed pitcher Joe Hoerner to the Philadelphia Phillies for first baseman Dick Allen, second baseman Cookie Rojas, and right-handed ace relief pitcher Jerry Johnson.
However, Flood refused to report to the moribund Phillies, citing the team's poor record and the fact that they played in dilapidated Connie Mack Stadium before belligerent and, Flood believed, racist fans. Flood forfeited a relatively lucrative US$100,000 (equivalent to $683,212 in 2018) contract by his refusal to be traded to the Phillies.
In a letter to Kuhn, Flood demanded that the commissioner declare him a free agent. Kuhn denied his request, citing the propriety of the reserve clause, which was language in contracts that essentially prevented a player from playing with another team even after his contract expired. In response, Flood filed a lawsuit against Kuhn and Major League Baseball on January 16, 1970, alleging that Major League Baseball had violated federal antitrust laws. Even though Flood was making $90,000 (equivalent to $614,891 in 2018) at the time, he likened the reserve clause to slavery. It was a controversial analogy, even among those who opposed the reserve clause.
The case, Flood v. Kuhn (407 U.S. 258) eventually went to the Supreme Court. Flood's attorney, former Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, asserted that the reserve clause depressed wages and limited players to one team for life. Major League Baseball's counsel countered that Commissioner Kuhn acted under the way he did '"for the good of the game."
Ultimately, the Supreme Court, acting on stare decisis "to stand by things decided", ruled 5–3 in favor of Major League Baseball, upholding a 1922 ruling in the case of Federal Baseball Club v. National League, (259 U.S. 200.)
Though he had a reputation as an owners' commissioner, Kuhn did not avoid confronting owners when he deemed it necessary. For example, he was a major adversary of Oakland Athletics owner Charles O. Finley. A major embarrassment for baseball resulted from Finley's actions during the 1973 World Series. Finley forced player Mike Andrews to sign a false affidavit saying he was injured after the reserve infielder committed two consecutive errors in the 12th inning of Oakland's Game 2 loss to the New York Mets. Andrews' teammates as well as manager Dick Williams rallied to his defense. Kuhn in return, forced Finley to reinstate Andrews. In 1976, when Finley attempted to sell several players to the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees for $3.5 million, Kuhn blocked the deals on the grounds that they would be bad for the game. Some believe that Kuhn's actions were simply a revenge tactic, aimed at Finley, after Finley attempted to force an owners vote to remove Kuhn as commissioner in 1975.
After being in office for over ten years, Kuhn had grown a strong reputation for being hard on players who abused drugs. Kuhn was quick to punish players who used drugs with heavy fines and suspensions. Kansas City Royals catcher Darrell Porter told the Associated Press that during the winter of 1979–1980 he became paranoid, convinced that Kuhn knew about his drug abuse, was trying to sneak into his house, and planned to ban him from baseball for life. Porter found himself sitting up at night in the dark watching out the front window, waiting for Kuhn to approach, clutching billiard balls and a shotgun. Ironically, when Porter was named the most valuable player of the 1982 World Series while playing for the Cardinals, Kuhn was on hand to congratulate him.
In 1983, four players from the Kansas City Royals – Willie Wilson, Jerry Martin, Willie Mays Aikens, and Vida Blue – were found guilty of cocaine use. In addition, such established stars as Ferguson Jenkins, Keith Hernandez, Dave Parker, and Dale Berra admitted to having problems with drugs.
In 1980, during the Iranian hostage crisis, Kuhn sat at a baseball game with Jeremiah Denton, a Navy admiral and former POW in Vietnam who would be elected U.S. Senator later that year from the state of Alabama. Recalling the event to The Washington Post, Kuhn believed that "that afternoon...the idea of a lifetime baseball pass was discussed," and upon their return from Iran, each of the 52 hostages was given one of these unique passes.
Kuhn was both praised and attacked for the firm stand that he levied against offenders. In 1982, some of the owners organized a move to push him out of office. In 1983, Kuhn and his supporters made a last-ditch effort to renew his contract but ultimately failed. Kuhn, though, was allowed to stay for the 1984 regular season before being replaced by Peter Ueberroth.
Peter Ueberroth was elected to succeed Bowie Kuhn on March 3, 1984 and took office on October 1 of that year. As a condition of his hiring, Ueberroth increased the commissioner's fining ability from US$5,000 to $250,000. His salary was raised to a reported $450,000, nearly twice what Kuhn was paid.
Just as Ueberroth was taking office the Major League Umpires Union was threatening to strike the postseason. Ueberroth managed to arbitrate the disagreement and had the umpires back to work before the League Championship Series were over. The next summer, Ueberroth worked behind the scenes to limit a players' strike to one day before a new labor agreement was worked out with the Players Association.
During the course of his stint as commissioner, Ueberroth reinstated Hall of Famers Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle, who had been banned from working for Major League Baseball by Kuhn because of their associations with gambling casinos. Also, Ueberroth suspended numerous players because of cocaine use, negotiated a $1.1 billion television contract with CBS, and initiated the investigation against Pete Rose's betting habits. In 1985, Ueberroth's first full year in office, the League Championship Series expanded from a best-of-five series to a best-of-seven series. At his urging, the Chicago Cubs chose to install lights at Wrigley Field rather than reimburse the leagues for lost night-game revenues. Ueberroth then found a new source of income in the form of persuading large corporations to pay for the privilege of having their products endorsed by Major League Baseball.
However, Ueberroth, with the assistance of the owners, also facilitated collusion, an illegal violation of the league's collective bargaining agreement with the players, during the 1985, 1986 and 1987 off-seasons. Players entering free-agency were prevented from both signing equitable contracts and joining the teams of their choice during this period, a strategy that union leader Marvin Miller later held was "tantamount to fixing, not just games, but entire pennant races, including all post-season series." The MLBPA filed collusion charges, arguing that Ueberroth and team owners had violated the collective bargaining agreement in the 1985, 1986, and 1987 seasons. The MLBPA won each case, resulting in "second look" free agents, and over $280 million in owner fines. Fay Vincent, who followed Ueberroth's successor in the commissioner's office, laid the crippling labor problems of the early 1990s directly at the feet of Ueberroth and the owners' collusion, holding that the collusion years constituted theft from the players.
Under Ueberroth, Major League Baseball enjoyed increased attendance (record attendance four straight seasons), greater awareness of crowd control and alcohol management within ballparks, a successful and vigilant anti-drug campaign, significant industry-wide improvement in the area of fair employment, and a significantly improved financial picture for the industry. When Ueberroth took office, 21 of the 26 clubs were losing money; in Ueberroth's last full season--1988—all clubs either broke even or finished in the black. In 1987, for example, baseball as an industry showed a net profit of $21.3 million, its first profitable year since 1973.
Nonetheless, following the announcement of the first of three large awards to the players following the collusion findings, Ueberroth stepped down as commissioner before the start of the 1989 regular season; his contract was to have run through the end of the season. He was succeeded by National League president A. Bartlett Giamatti.
A Yale professor of English literature who became president of the university, A. Bartlett Giamatti had a lifelong interest in baseball (he was a die-hard Boston Red Sox fan). He became President of the National League in 1986, and later Commissioner of Baseball in 1989. During his stint as National League president, Giamatti placed an emphasis on the need to improve the environment for the fan in the ballparks. He also decided to make umpires strictly enforce the balk rule, and supported "social justice" as the only remedy for the lack of presence of minority managers, coaches, or executives at any level in Major League Baseball.
While still serving as National League president, Giamatti suspended Pete Rose for 30 games after Rose shoved umpire Dave Pallone on April 30, 1988. Later that year, Giamatti also suspended Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Jay Howell, who was caught using pine tar during the National League Championship Series.
Giamatti, whose tough dealing with Yale's union favorably impressed Major League Baseball owners, was unanimously elected to succeed Peter Ueberroth as commissioner on September 8, 1988 and assumed office on April 1, 1989. Giamatti was commissioner on August 24, 1989 when Pete Rose voluntarily agreed to permanent ineligibility from baseball. As reflected in the agreement with Pete Rose, Giamatti was determined to maintain the integrity of the game during his brief commissionership.
While at his vacation home on Martha's Vineyard, Giamatti, a heavy smoker for many years, died suddenly of a massive heart attack at the age of 51, just eight days after banishing Rose and 154 days into his tenure as commissioner. He became the second baseball commissioner to die in office, the first being Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Baseball's owners soon selected Fay Vincent, Giamatti's close friend and baseball's first-ever deputy commissioner, as the new commissioner.
At his longtime friend incoming commissioner Bart Giamatti's behest, Fay Vincent accepted the position of deputy commissioner. He became the 8th commissioner of baseball following Giamatti's death on September 1, 1989, and presided over the 1989 World Series, which was interrupted by the Loma Prieta earthquake; the owners' lockout during Spring training of the 1990 season; and the expulsion of George Steinbrenner in his first year. Before accepting the job as Commissioner of Baseball, Vincent consulted with Bart Giamatti's widow, Toni, to make sure she thought it was appropriate for him to do so.
During his commissionership, Vincent made it known (e.g. while being interviewed by Pat O'Brien during CBS' coverage of Game 4 of the 1991 World Series) that if he had the chance, he would get rid of the designated hitter rule.
Vincent has also been connected with Pete Rose's lifetime banishment from baseball; however, Rose's banishment began while Giamatti was commissioner, not Vincent (although Vincent led the investigation and was involved in the negotiations). Vincent has publicly said he does not support Rose's reinstatement.
On October 17, 1989, Vincent sat in a field box behind the left dugout at San Francisco's Candlestick Park. At 5:04 p.m., just prior to Game 3 of the World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics, the 6.9 Mw Loma Prieta earthquake hit with a maximum Mercalli intensity of IX (Violent). At approximately 5:35 p.m., after coming to the conclusion that the power couldn't be restored before sunset, Vincent ordered the game to be postponed. According to Vincent, he had already made the decision to postpone Game 3 without telling anybody first. As a result, the umpires filed a formal protest of Vincent's decision. However, the game had to be postponed due to trouble with gas lines as well as the power issue.
The World Series ultimately resumed after a ten-day postponement (and some initial conflict between Vincent and San Francisco mayor Art Agnos, who felt that the World Series ought to have been delayed much longer) on October 27, 1989. While presenting the Commissioner's Trophy to the Athletics, who wound up winning the World Series in a four-game sweep, Vincent summed up the 1989 World Series as a "Remarkable World Series in many respects."
In February 1990, owners announced that spring training would not be starting as scheduled. This occurred after MLBPA Executive Director Donald Fehr became afraid that the owners would institute a salary cap. Fehr believed that a salary cap could possibly restrict the number of choices free agents could make and a pay-for-performance scale would eliminate multiyear contracts. The lockout, which was the seventh work stoppage in baseball since 1972, lasted 32 games and wiped out all of spring training.
Vincent worked with both the owners and MLBPA, and on March 19, 1990, Vincent was able to announce a new Basic Agreement (which raised the minimum major league salary from US$68,000 to $100,000 and established a six-man study committee on revenue sharing). As a consequence for the lockout, Opening Day for the 1990 season was moved back a week to April 9, and the season was extended by three days to accommodate the normal 162-game schedule.
On July 30, 1990, Vincent banned New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner from baseball for life after Steinbrenner paid Howard Spira, a small-time gambler, $40,000 for "dirt" on his outfielder Dave Winfield after Winfield sued Steinbrenner for failing to pay his foundation the $300,000 guaranteed in his contract. Steinbrenner was eventually reinstated in 1993 (one year after Vincent left office).
On June 24, 1992, Vincent permanently suspended pitcher Steve Howe for repeated drug offenses. Vincent was incensed when upper Yankee management (Buck Showalter, Gene Michael, and Jack Lawn) agreed to testify on Howe's behalf, and threatened them with expulsion from the game:
Ironically, the three men were unaffected by Vincent's hyperbole, testified for Howe as promised, and remained active in baseball. Three months later, Vincent was removed from his job as commissioner. An arbitrator overturned Vincent's suspension of Howe on November 11, 1992.
In June 1991, Vincent declared that the American League would receive US$42 million of the National League's $190 million in expansion revenue and that the AL would provide players in the National League expansion draft (involving the Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins). In an attempt to win support in the American League and balance the vote, Vincent decreed that the AL owners were entitled to 22 percent of the $190 million take. This decision marked the first time in expansion history that leagues were required to share expansion revenue or provide players for another league's expansion draft. Vincent said the owners expanded to raise money to pay their collusion debt.
Just prior to leaving office, Vincent had plans to realign the National League. Vincent wanted the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals to move from the Eastern Division to the Western Division. Part of the impetus for realignment was the geographically anomalous placement of the Cincinnati Reds and Atlanta Braves in the West and the Cubs and the Cardinals in the east since 1969. National League president Bill White warned Vincent that realigning without league approval would be in violation of the National League Constitution.
Many thought this plan would be beneficial to the league as a whole, especially by building a regional rivalry between the new franchise in Miami and the Atlanta Braves. The Cubs, however, opposed the move, suggesting that fans in the Central Time Zone would be forced to watch more games originating on the West Coast with later broadcast times (had the realignment included the use of a balanced schedule, the Cubs would have actually played more games against teams outside their division).
On July 17, 1992, the Chicago Cubs sued Vincent and asked the U.S. District Court in Chicago for a preliminary injunction to prevent implementation, which was granted two weeks later. After Vincent's attorneys appealed, oral arguments were scheduled for August 30 that year. Ultimately, Vincent resigned before the litigation was scheduled to resume, so as a result, the Cubs dropped their suit.
Although Vincent's vision never really came into fruition, Major League Baseball did in fact realign in 1994, albeit in the form of three divisions in each league, and the addition of an expanded playoff format.
His relationship with baseball's owners was always tenuous at best; he resigned in 1992 after the owners gave him an 18–9 no confidence vote. The owners were still angry at Vincent over his intervention during the 1990 lockout. The owners were also disappointed by dwindling television ratings in light of a US$1.1 billion, four-year deal with CBS (which ultimately cost the network $500 million) beginning in 1990 (Vincent's first full season as commissioner) and upwardly spiraling salaries. (It is also important to note that CBS itself contributed to decreasing ratings thanks to the haphazard scheduling of Game of the Week broadcasts during the regular season to the point that fans grew tired of tuning into no baseball on summer Saturdays.) They also accused him of acting in a high-handed manner, especially in the Howe affair.
In his farewell, Vincent said
He was replaced by Milwaukee Brewers owner Bud Selig, whose family continued to maintain ownership over the Brewers. Fay Vincent was never able to complete the five-year term that he had inherited from Bart Giamatti. Vincent would later contend that Major League Baseball made a huge mistake by not appointing his deputy commissioner Steve Greenberg — the son of the Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg — as the commissioner.
Bud Selig served as the Executive Council Chairman from 1992 to 1998, acting as the commissioner, and then was appointed as the official commissioner in 1998. Selig oversaw baseball through the 1994 strike, the introduction of the wild card, interleague play, and the merging of the National and American leagues under the Office of the Commissioner. He was instrumental in organizing the World Baseball Classic in 2006. Selig also introduced revenue sharing. He is credited for the financial turnaround of baseball during his tenure with a 400 percent increase in the revenue of MLB and annual record breaking attendance.
During Selig's term of service, the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs became a public issue. The Mitchell Report, commissioned by Selig, concluded that the MLB commissioners, club officials, the Players Association, and the players all share "to some extent in the responsibility for the steroid era." Following the release of the Mitchell Report, Congressman Cliff Stearns called publicly for Selig to step down as commissioner, citing his "glacial response" to the "growing stain on baseball." Selig pledged on numerous occasions to rid baseball of performance-enhancing drugs, and oversaw and instituted many rule changes and penalties to that end.
Bud Selig helped introduce the following changes to Major League Baseball:
During Selig's years of service, new stadiums opened in Atlanta, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Colorado, Detroit, Houston, Miami, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Arlington, St. Louis, Washington, D.C., Queens, The Bronx, and Minneapolis, while Fenway Park in Boston and Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City underwent major renovations, and similar work began on Wrigley Field in Chicago.
Rob Manfred was elected as the 10th commissioner of baseball on August 14, 2014. Manfred, who has worked full-time for Major League Baseball since 1998, was elected on the third ballot after falling one vote short of the 23 vote (3/4 super-majority) threshold on the first two ballots. It was baseball's first contested commissioner election in 46 years as Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf and Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno led a group in support of Boston Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, who they felt would take a tougher stance against the players in labor negotiations. Manfred took over from Bud Selig on January 25, 2015.
Tensions between commissioners and the baseball team owners who elected them, exacerbated by baseball's chronic labor conflicts with the Major League Baseball Players Association beginning in the 1970s, came to a head in 1992, when baseball owners voted no confidence in Commissioner Fay Vincent by a tally of 18–9. The owners had a number of grievances against Vincent, especially the perception that he had been too favorable to the players during the lockout of 1990. Unlike his replacement Selig, Vincent stated that the owners colluded against the players. Vincent put it this way: "The Union basically doesn’t trust the Ownership because collusion was a $280 million theft by Selig and Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf of that money from the players. I mean, they rigged the signing of free agents. They got caught. They paid $280 million to the players. And I think that's polluted labor relations in baseball ever since it happened. I think it's the reason union chief Donald Fehr has no trust in Selig."
Vincent resigned on September 7, 1992. Selig, the longtime owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, was appointed chairman of baseball's Executive Council, making him the de facto acting commissioner (among the potential candidates for a permanent commissioner discussed in the media were future President George W. Bush, who was the managing partner for the Texas Rangers from 1989 to 1994, and George J. Mitchell, then Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate). While acting commissioner, Selig presided over Major League Baseball during the 1994 player's strike, which led to the cancellation of the World Series.
Selig continued as acting commissioner until July 8, 1998, when the owners officially appointed him to the commissioner position. Having been an owner for 30 years, Selig was seen as having closer ties to the MLB team owners than previous commissioners. Selig's administration had many perceived successes, such as expansion and interleague play.
In May 2008, Bud Selig surpassed Bowie Kuhn as the second longest-serving commissioner (including his time as "acting commissioner" from 1992 to mid-1998), behind Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who died in office after 24 years of service. Beginning in 2006, Selig repeatedly stated his intention to retire at the end of his contract in 2009. However, on 17 January 2008, it was announced that Selig accepted a 3-year extension through the 2012 season 
A prominent issue currently faced by Major League Baseball is the usage of performance-enhancing drugs, including anabolic steroids, by ballplayers in the late 1990s through 2009. Addressing the issue of whether Selig should have taken alternate actions, former commissioner Fay Vincent wrote in the April 24, 2006, issue of Sports Illustrated that with most of Barry Bonds' official troubles being off the field, and with the strength of the players' union, there is little Selig can do beyond appointing an investigating committee. Vincent said that Selig is largely "an observer of a forum beyond his reach."
Another challenge facing the Office of the Commissioner is competitive imbalance and struggling attendance in small markets. In 2010, just 2 teams (Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies) sold out every game and many teams failed to draw 2 million fans. In the Office of the Commissioner's Blue Ribbon Panel on Baseball Economics, it was found that the luxury tax was failing to correct the competitive balance of the league and several steps were needed to correct the current state of revenue generating and sharing.
Commissioners of major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada:
The 1919 Chicago White Sox season was their 19th season in the American League. They won 88 games to advance to the World Series but lost to the Cincinnati Reds. More significantly, some of the players were found to have taken money from gamblers in return for throwing the series. The "Black Sox Scandal" had permanent ramifications for baseball, including the establishment of the office of Commissioner of Baseball.1919 World Series
The 1919 World Series matched the American League champion Chicago White Sox against the National League champion Cincinnati Reds. Although most World Series have been of the best-of-seven format, the 1919 World Series was a best-of-nine series (along with 1903, 1920, and 1921). Baseball decided to try the best-of-nine format partly to increase popularity of the sport and partly to generate more revenue.The events of the series are often associated with the Black Sox Scandal, when several members of the Chicago franchise conspired with gamblers, allegedly led by Arnold Rothstein, to throw the World Series games. The 1919 World Series was the last World Series to take place without a Commissioner of Baseball in place. In 1920, the various franchise owners installed Kenesaw Mountain Landis as the first "Commissioner of Baseball." In August 1921, despite being acquitted from criminal charges, eight players from the White Sox were banned from organized baseball for fixing the series (or having knowledge about the fix).1920 Major League Baseball season
The 1920 Major League Baseball season, was the first to be presided over by the newly created office of Baseball Commissioner. In the wake of the Black Sox scandal, the credibility of baseball had been tarnished with the public and fans and the owners of the teams clamored for credibility to be restored. A three-person National Commission ran the major and minor leagues – composed of the American League President, National League President, and one team owner – but the owners felt that creating one position with near-unlimited authority was the answer. In the World Series, the Cleveland Indians triumphed over the Brooklyn Robins, 5–2.1949 Little League World Series
The 1949 Little League World Series was held from August 24 to August 27 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The Hammonton All Stars of Hammonton, New Jersey, defeated the Pensacola All Stars of Pensacola, Florida, in the championship game of the 3rd Little League World Series.This was the first tournament to be called the "Little League World Series". Attendees at the championship game included Ford Frick, president of the National League (and later Commissioner of Baseball).1950 Little League World Series
The 1950 Little League World Series was held from August 23 to August 26 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The Houston Little League of Houston, Texas, defeated Bridgeport Little League of Bridgeport, Connecticut, in the championship game of the 4th Little League World Series.Attendees at the championship game included James H. Duff, Governor of Pennsylvania, and Ford Frick, president of the National League (and later Commissioner of Baseball). The Houston Little League team was managed by former MLB player Jeff Cross.1995 Major League Baseball All-Star Game
The 1995 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the 66th playing of the midsummer classic between the all-stars of the American League (AL) and National League (NL), the two leagues comprising Major League Baseball. The game was held on July 11, 1995, at The Ballpark in Arlington in Arlington, Texas, the home of the Texas Rangers of the American League. It was the first All-Star Game held in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but not the first hosted by the franchise (as the Washington Senators, the team hosted the game in 1962 and 1969).
In this All-Star Game, American League pitchers held National League batters to just three base hits, but all three were home runs. The game resulted in the National League defeating the American League 3-2. This is also the most recent All-Star Game to be televised by the ABC television network.
Because of the MLBPA Strike, and the lack of official champions, the leagues chose to designate the managers of the unofficial league champions (teams with the best record at the time of abandonment of the season) as managers for this All-Star Game.
There were two color guards participating in the pregame ceremonies. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police National Color Guard from Ottawa, Ontario, carried the Canadian flag, while the 1995-96 Del Rio (TX) High School ROTC Color Guard carried the American flag. Country singer Michelle Wright later sang "O Canada", while fellow country singer (and native Texan) Lyle Lovett sang "The Star-Spangled Banner". Nolan Ryan threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
National League President Len Coleman presented Jeff Conine with the All-Star Game MVP Award in lieu of the Commissioner of Baseball, marking the second year in a row that Coleman presided over the MVP Award presentation.2004 Kentucky's 6th congressional district special election
The 2004 United States House of Representatives special election in Kentucky's 6th congressional district was held on February 17, 2004, to select the successor to Ernie Fletcher (R) who resigned upon being elected Governor of Kentucky. Each party held a nominating convention to choose their nominee for the special election. Republicans selected state Senator Alice Kerr over state Representatives Stan Lee and Lonnie Napier and Lexington city councilman Charles Ellinger II as their nominee while Democrats chose former state Attorney General and 2003 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ben Chandler.
Chandler won the election to fill out the rest of Fletcher's unexpired term. This was a symbolic victory for Democrats considering that the man Chandler succeeded was the same one he lost to in the Gubernatorial election months earlier. Though Kerr was able to out raise and out spend Chandler, it was not enough to overcome his popularity, who in addition to having served as state attorney general was also the grandson of Happy Chandler, a former governor, U.S. Senator, and Commissioner of Baseball, in this conservative, but generally ticket-splitting Lexington centered District, which supported Fletcher with 71% in 2002, and George W. Bush over Al Gore by a smaller but nonetheless substantial 55% to 42% margin in the Presidential election of 2000.Black Sox Scandal
The Black Sox Scandal was a Major League Baseball match fixing incident in which eight members of the Chicago White Sox were accused of intentionally losing the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for money from a gambling syndicate led by Arnold Rothstein. The fallout from the scandal resulted in the appointment of Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis as the first Commissioner of Baseball, granting him absolute control over the sport in order to restore its integrity.
Despite acquittals in a public trial in 1921, Judge Landis permanently banned all eight men from professional baseball. The punishment was eventually defined to also include banishment from post-career honors such as consideration for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Despite requests for reinstatement in the decades that followed (particularly in the case of Shoeless Joe Jackson), the ban remains in force.Commissioner's Trophy (MLB)
The Commissioner's Trophy is presented each year by the Commissioner of Baseball to the Major League Baseball team that wins the World Series. Recent trophy designs contain flags representing each team in North America's top two leagues, the National League and the American League. The two participating teams in that year's World Series were previously represented by two press pins set on the base of the trophy. It is the only championship trophy of the five major sports in North America that is not named after a particular person (contrasting with the National Hockey League's Stanley Cup, Major League Soccer's Philip F. Anschutz Trophy, the National Football League's Vince Lombardi Trophy, and the National Basketball Association's Larry O'Brien Trophy).Commissioner of Baseball (NPB)
The Commissioner of Baseball is the highest office in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB). NPB's current Commissioner is Atsushi Saito.David Stearns
David Stearns (born February 18, 1985) is an American baseball executive who serves as the president of baseball operations and general manager of the Milwaukee Brewers of Major League Baseball (MLB). Stearns previously served as the assistant general manager of MLB's Houston Astros, worked for the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball, the Arizona Fall League, and in the baseball operations departments for the Cleveland Indians and New York Mets.Joe Reichler
Joseph Lawrence Reichler (January 1, 1915 – December 12, 1988) was an American sports writer who worked for the Associated Press from 1943 to 1966. He mostly covered the New York City based baseball teams. Reichler also wrote many baseball books, and worked for the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball.
In 1982 it was discovered that he sold items that had earlier been donated to the Baseball Hall of Fame to cover his financial problems.He was awarded the J. G. Taylor Spink Award by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in 1980.League system
A league system is a hierarchy of leagues in a sport. They are often called pyramids, due to their tendency to split into an increasing number of regional divisions further down the system. League systems of some sort are used in many sports in many countries.
In association football, rugby union and rugby league, league systems are usually connected by the process of promotion and relegation, in which teams from a lower division who finish at the top of the standings in their league are promoted (advanced to the next level of the system) while teams who finish lowest in their division are relegated (move down to a lower division). This process can be automatic each year, or can require playoffs.
In North America, league systems in the most popular sports do not use promotion or relegation. Most professional sports are divided into major and minor leagues. Baseball and association football (known as soccer in North America) have well-defined pyramid shapes to their minor league hierarchies, each managed by a governing body (Minor League Baseball, an organization under the authority of the Commissioner of Baseball, governs baseball leagues; the United States Soccer Federation designates the American soccer pyramid.) Ice hockey's professional minor league system is linear, with one league at most of the four levels of the game; the ice hockey league system in North America is governed by collective bargaining agreements and affiliation deals between the NHL, AHL and ECHL.
Gridiron football does not operate on a league system. Different professional leagues play by very different sets of rules in different seasons (the NFL plays 11-a-side on a 100-yard field in autumn and early winter, the CFL uses 12-a-side on a 110-yard field in summer and early fall, while arena football and the minor indoor leagues each play 8-a-side on a 50-yard field in the spring and early summer). There have been attempts at forming true minor leagues for the professional game (most recently with 2019's Alliance of American Football); none so far have been able to balance the major leagues' requests with the ability to maintain financial solvency.Lee MacPhail
Leland Stanford MacPhail Jr. (October 25, 1917 – November 8, 2012) was an American front-office executive in Major League Baseball. MacPhail was a baseball executive for 45 years, serving as the director of player personnel for the New York Yankees, the president and general manager of the Baltimore Orioles, chief aide to Commissioner of Baseball William Eckert, executive vice president and general manager of the Yankees, and president of the American League.Mitchell Report
The Report to the Commissioner of Baseball of an Independent Investigation into the Illegal Use of Steroids and Other Performance Enhancing Substances by Players in Major League Baseball, informally known as the Mitchell Report, is the result of former Democratic United States Senator from Maine George J. Mitchell's 20-month investigation into the use of anabolic steroids and human growth hormone (HGH) in Major League Baseball (MLB). The 409-page report, released on December 13, 2007, covers the history of the use of illegal performance-enhancing substances by players and the effectiveness of the MLB Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The report also advances certain recommendations regarding the handling of past illegal drug use and future prevention practices. In addition, the report names 89 MLB players who are alleged to have used steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs.Peter Ueberroth
Peter Victor Ueberroth (; born September 2, 1937) is an American executive. He served as the sixth Commissioner of Baseball from 1984 to 1989. He served as the chairman of the United States Olympic Committee from 2004–2008.Rob Manfred
Robert D. Manfred Jr. (born September 28, 1958) is an American lawyer and business executive who is the tenth and current Commissioner of Baseball. He previously served as the Chief Operating Officer of Major League Baseball (MLB) and succeeded Bud Selig as Commissioner on January 25, 2015.Selig Monument
The Selig Monument is a public art work by artist Brian Maughan. It is located in front of the Miller Park stadium west of downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The sculpture depicts Bud Selig, the former Commissioner of Baseball and former owner of the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team. It was dedicated on August 24, 2010.Tom Borland
Thomas Bruce Borland (February 14, 1933 – March 2, 2013), nicknamed "Spike", was an American relief pitcher in Major League Baseball who played portions of the 1960 and 1961 seasons for the Boston Red Sox. Borland batted and threw left-handed, stood 6 feet 3 inches (1.91 m) tall and weighed 172 pounds (78 kg).
Born in Kansas, Borland graduated from high school in McAlester, Oklahoma, and attended what is now Oklahoma State University, where he was named Most Outstanding Player of the 1955 College World Series. His minor league career began in 1955 with the Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League, but he was declared a free agent by Commissioner of Baseball Ford Frick when it was discovered that the Baltimore Orioles had violated the bonus rule of the day by signing Borland, then loaning him to the Oaks. Signed then by the Red Sox, Borland missed two full years (1956–57) while serving in the United States Army. In 1959, he won 14 games, losing eight, and posted a strong 2.73 earned run average for American Association champion Minneapolis, and was promoted to the Red Sox in mid-May 1960.
In 27 MLB appearances (26 in 1960 and only one in 1961), including four games started, Borland posted an 0–4 record with a poor 6.75 ERA in 52 innings pitched, allowing 70 hits and 23 bases on balls. He struck out 32 and was credited with three saves as a relief pitcher.
As a minor leaguer he had a 48–39 record and a 3.42 ERA between 1955 and 1963. He was traded to the expansion Houston Colt .45s in March 1962 in exchange for Dave Philley, but never appeared in a Major League game for them. Instead, he spent two years in his home state for Houston's Triple-A affiliate, the Oklahoma City 89ers, before leaving baseball.
Commissioners of Major League Baseball