Asked to predict what will be the enduring legacy of Bud Selig's tenure as commissioner of Major League Baseball, most baseball fans likely would say the cancellation of the 1994 World Series and the explosion of steroid use.
Not so fast, urges former Kansas University Chancellor Gene Budig, who served as Major League Baseball's last American League president, from 1994 to 1999.
"How will he be remembered?" Budig echoed a question. "I don't know. I think that's a question, though a good one, that no one can really answer now. One cannot argue with the success of the game during his tenure in terms of public acceptance and interest. Selig has been instrumental in bringing about the rigorous testing process of today. That has occurred under his watch."
Budig said that he and then-National League president Leonard Coleman asked Selig to include a request for "a comprehensive drug policy" in recommendations made to the owners' negotiating team during the labor dispute of 1994 and 1995.
"The league presidents were not part of the negotiating team, and I cannot tell you exactly why it did not survive in the process," Budig said. "I do take enormous comfort in the fact that Major League Baseball today has the most rigorous drug policy (in sports). All of us wish that it would have been in place sooner, but that would be true of all professional sports. MLB is not unique."
During the years Budig referenced, owners used drug testing as a bargaining chip, using removing it from the table to gain an economic concession. It never was a priority.
Still, Budig stressed Selig has helped to grow the game of baseball.
"There is no doubt that the game has reached new heights of success with the public," Budig said. "That is true at all levels of baseball. The commissioner as been a significant contributor to innovations needed by the game. He has energized it and he deserves credit for those contributions."
Selig will draw heat about performance-enhancing drugs shattering some of baseball's most cherished records. Overall, Budig urged caution in assessing Selig's influence on baseball.