Bud Selig was elected for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame earlier this month. A Milwaukee native, Selig made it his mission to ensure that there would always be Major League Baseball in his hometown.
After the 1965 season, the Milwaukee Braves moved to Atlanta. Owner William Bartholomay desired a larger television market for the team and Atlanta mayor Ivan Allen Jr. had just constructed a state-of-the-art stadium without a team to call it home. It was truly a match made in heaven.
It was a nightmare, however, for 31-year-old Bud Selig.
Selig has often spoken of breaking down in tears listening to the radio broadcast of the Braves’ first game in Atlanta on Opening Day in 1966. Pirates’ announcer Bob Prince began the game with the call, “We’re a long way from Milwaukee, folks.”
Selig decided to devote himself to returning Major League Baseball to Milwaukee. In 1969, he attempted to buy the Chicago White Sox with the intention of moving them to Milwaukee. He entered into an agreement to buy the club but the sale was quickly vetoed by the American League.
In 1970, the Seattle Pilots went bankrupt after just one season in the Majors. This was Selig’s chance.
“Nothing will ever give me the satisfaction that landing the team did.”
Less than a week before the start of the 1970 season, Selig bought the Pilots franchise for $10.8 million and renamed them the Brewers after a minor league club he grew up watching. The new Brewers were moved to Milwaukee to play in Milwaukee County Stadium.
“It was a long, tough five and a half years with a lot of rejection, and a lot of sadness,” Selig later said, remembering the heartache of the whole situation. “Then the ultimate happened. … Nothing will ever give me the satisfaction that landing the team did.”
Selig served as the owner of the Brewers until he became Acting Commissioner of the MLB in 1992. For his unwavering commitment to Milwaukee baseball, the Brewers had a statue of Selig erected outside of Miller Park in 2010. He still lives in Milwaukee today at age 82.
If it wasn’t for Selig’s determination and refusal to give up, there likely wouldn’t be a Major League ball club in Milwaukee today. I think it’s safe to say Bud Selig is the greatest Brewers fan to ever live.
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