Five hours after deliberations began on the final day of the quarterly Owners Meetings, it was announced that Manfred, MLB's chief operating officer, will formally take over on Jan. 25. Selig has presided over the game for 22 remarkable years.
"We've had quite an interesting day, a lengthy day," Selig said. "We had a significant number of votes, but in the end the vote was unanimous, 30-0. The process is complete."
||Years in office
|Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis
|Albert Benjamin "Happy" Chandler
|Ford Christopher Frick
|General William D. Eckert
|Bowie Kent Kuhn
|Peter Victor Ueberroth
|A. Bartlett Giamatti
|Francis T. Vincent Jr.
|Allan H. "Bud" Selig
|Robert D. Manfred Jr.
Said Manfred: "I'm tremendously honored by the confidence the owners showed in me. I have very big shoes to fill. [Selig] has been a friend and mentor for me the entire 25 years I've been in the game. There is no question that I would not be standing here today if it were not for Bud. And I hope I will perform in a way that adds to his great legacy."
Selig's tenure resulted in a sweeping transformation of the game, including an unprecedented era in labor peace, a sharp rise in revenue and attendance, a string of new ballparks, improved competitive balance, instant replay, expanded playoffs, the most comprehensive drug-testing program among the major professional sports and the creation of Major League Baseball Advanced Media.
When Manfred, 55, was promoted to COO on Sept. 28, 2013, it put him directly in line to follow Selig. Since then he has overseen all traditional functions of the Commissioner's Office, including labor relations, baseball operations, finance, administration and club governance. But a seven-man search committee, headed by Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr., eventually presented a slate of three candidates to the Executive Committee: Manfred, MLB's executive vice president of business Tim Brosnan and Red Sox chairman Tom Werner.
"We ended up with three very strong, highly qualified candidates," DeWitt said. "In the end, Rob Manfred was elected because of his dynamic leadership, his passion for the game, his ability to lead the staff in New York, which he has done, and his overall ability to deal with labor issues and really all aspects of the game. When we put together the requirements for the next Commissioner, he really checked all the boxes.
"You have to have broad-based support. And I think so many people in all aspects of the industry -- large, middle and small markets -- talked about how he was sensitive to their needs. He'll treat everyone equally. It's not about one club or one group of clubs. It's about all 30 clubs."
Brosnan dropped out shortly before the first ballot. "I care too much about the game to let it get dragged down, and I wanted the process to be as efficient as it could," he explained. "We've had a great run under Commissioner Selig, and I look forward to a continued great run under Commissioner Manfred.
"Of course I'm disappointed [about not getting the job]. I wouldn't have gone through this if I didn't think I could do it. But we're in the middle of a great run as an industry, and I look forward to that continuing."
The first several votes ended with Manfred getting 22 of 30 votes, one short of what was needed for election. After a brief recess, the owners reconvened around 5:30 p.m. ET and got to the finish line with Manfred an hour later.
Werner pledged to back Manfred.
"I think that people were receptive to my ideas, and at the end, we all voted unanimously to go forward with Rob," Werner said. "And I'll do everything possible to support him and improve the game. There were a number of votes, maybe five or six. In the end, I think Rob will make a great Commissioner. I'm going to support him and I think that some of the ideas we talked about to speed up the play of the game to capture a generation of young fans, I think we need, and to make the game more popular internationally, I think all those ideas got a warm reception. And I'll continue to work on them."
Said Manfred: "What I said to the owners when I came down after the vote was that I didn't even want to think about who was on which side of what issue at points in the process. My commitment was that I would work extremely hard day in and day out to convince all 30 of them that they made a great decision today."
The early reaction was bullish.
"Rob is a strong, strong leader and can build on the accomplishments of the previous Commissioner. He's got the experience and everyone's looking to him to solve the problems baseball faces and to grow the game," said Orioles managing general partner Peter Angelos. "He's been at it for years. He's gotten his Ph D. He knows every facet and has a great way of getting things accomplished."
Added Giants president and chief executive officer Larry Baer: "The process was kind of like making sausage, but I think that will have a shelf life of about 20 minutes and then we're off and when Rob takes over in January, nobody's going to be thinking about that. Over the years, he's engendered a lot of trust and confidence from the clubs because he's worked very closely with the clubs on a whole lot of issues.
"There's a lot of confidence that the game grew well in the period with Bud and that somebody who was at his side is well-positioned to foster further growth. Sure, there are challenges and there are issues, but I know in our case baseball has never been more popular in the Bay Area. So I think folks see Rob as someone who can take where we are now and just jump-start it into new dimensions with new ideas and fresh ideas. He's very open-minded."
MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark was also supportive of Manfred's selection.
"On behalf of the players, I want to congratulate Rob Manfred on being named Major League Baseball's 10th Commissioner," Clark said. "As representative of the players, I look forward to working closely with Rob, the clubs' representative, as we strive to sustain the growing popularity and prosperity of our great game. Personally, I have known Rob for more than 15 years, and I'm confident that his vast experience in all aspects of the sport will serve his commissionership well."
Selig, who has praised DeWitt and the search committee throughout the process, pronounced himself happy with the result. "There were differences of opinion, but in the end we came together and did what we always do. And that's what the majority wanted. It's been a great day for baseball and I'm very pleased," he said.
"I've worked with Rob for a long time. He's had great experience. The last couple years, he's dealt with every area and I've given him many tasks, some of them not very pleasant, quite frankly. But he's done them well and there's no doubt in my mind he has the training, the temperament and the experience to be a very, very successful Commissioner."
Manfred has strong ideas about what's good for baseball, but his election also signals a desire to continue in the direction that has led MLB to the heights it currently enjoys. "I'm going to work very hard to maintain that tradition and unity as we move the game forward," he said.