Before he became Commissioner of baseball, Bud Selig was the owner of the Milwaukee Brewers; some local businessmen had taken to referring to him as “Bud Light” in a demeaning tone as well as referring to a beer from the city’s archrival St. Louis. However, as shown in this fascinating book, Selig is far from a lightweight. As commissioner, he was involved in the steroid controversy, the Pete Rose gambling controversy, baseball expansion and labor negotiations, not to mention realizing a fully diverse group of players in what was once a white-only game.
Selig comes across in this book as a straight shooter—someone who calls them as he sees them. While trying to be nice, he does reserve some sharp observations on his fellow baseball owners, who are portrayed as viewing the game solely through selfish eyes with little interest in the greater good of baseball as a whole. This contrasts with pro football where the owners, under Pete Rozelle, took a perspective that every team would benefit if the owners worked together. Selig also has some critical views of certain well-known politicians who did not keep their word.
It is hard to believe, in this era of multi-million-dollar salaries for baseball stars, that even 25 years ago the players would go on strike every few years because they were the underpaid relative to star athletes in football and basketball. Selig was in the middle of the negotiations for several contracts and it took him years to have the players and owners agree that they needed each other more as partners, than as enemies.
A pejorative term sometimes applied to writers is that the material is “too much of inside baseball,” referring to excess detail most readers wouldn’t care about. In this case, the total book is inside baseball. But since baseball is truly the national sport, with millions of fans, getting Selig’s inside view really brings the game alive. Even those not committed to following baseball every summer would be interested in Selig’s perspectives as an owner about the actual business of baseball. While referring to certain games, and a couple of World Series, the book is not a history of famous players or famous games. Rather it is an inside view of a business that fascinates millions of us each spring, summer and fall. Highly recommended.
Alfred M. King is a freelance reviewer in Spotsylvania County.