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Archive for Sunday, March 18, 2007

Selig: Kuhn deserves credit

March 18, 2007

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— Bud Selig complained Saturday that Bowie Kuhn never was appreciated for his success as baseball commissioner, saying the changes Kuhn oversaw in his 15 years on the job have helped baseball reach the level of success it currently has.

"I think the reason we are where we are today ... a lot of the seeds were planted in the Kuhn era," Selig said. "He never gets credit for it, but he should."

Selig spoke of his predecessor as commissioner while attending a spring training game between the Oakland Athletics and Milwaukee Brewers. Selig planned to fly to Florida to attend Kuhn's funeral Tuesday.

Kuhn died Thursday at St. Luke's Hospital in Jacksonville, Fla., following a short bout with pneumonia that led to respiratory failure. He was 80.

Selig recalled when he first met Kuhn back in the 1960s before he became a baseball owner. Kuhn, then a lawyer for the National League, questioned Selig on the witness stand during a trial over the Braves' move from Milwaukee to Atlanta.

"But we became great friends," Selig said.

Selig sought advice frequently from Kuhn during baseball labor battles in the 1990s, but called Kuhn's 15-year tenure the toughest the game has ever had.

"The sport had been stuck in neutral for a long, long time," Selig said. "Pete Rozelle had taken over the NFL in the 1960s. Baseball was resistant to change. The sport was adamantly resistant to change. And now change started. And Bowie was the commissioner then."

In other topics, Selig said he was still waiting to see what would come out of a nationwide investigation into the illicit sale of steroids and human growth hormone. Baseball players Gary Matthews Jr., Jose Canseco, John Rocker, Jerry Hairston Jr., David Bell and Darren Holmes have already been linked to the investigation.

The district attorney in Albany, N.Y., who is conducting the probe, said earlier in the week that he will forward the names of athletes linked to the inquiry to pro sports leagues. Selig said he has no more details on that.

Earlier, Selig addressed the Athletics' investors and talked to them about their proposed stadium deal in Fremont, Calif. Selig said he was pleased the team plans to remain in the Bay Area

"I told them every stadium deal is very difficult," he said. "They have made good progress. I'm hopeful."

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