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The Man Behind The Game

As I walked through the halls of the museum this morning, stopping to look at the brand new exhibit on the Negro Leagues that was recently installed (and paid for by the Boston Red Sox and the Yawkey Trust -- talk about trying to make up for past transgressions), I noticed a small crowd of people milling about through the exhibit of the Women's Baseball section. Everybody had a camera to begin with, but more than the usual number were aimed in one direction, at a short, older man glancing at the walls.

Allen H. Selig, better known as "Bud", was paying a morning visit.

Just like everyone else, I walked up to him and got my ticket stub signed, but as he walked away, I thought about how he's been as a commissioner. The wild card, division restructuring, revenue sharing, the players' strike, the first skipped World Series, the tied All-Star Game, the steroid controversy, the Congressional hearings, Rafael Palmeiro's suspension and exit from the game. If you think about it, Selig has lorded over quite a few events, probably more than any commissioner since Landis.

If you've read Andrew Zimbalist's "In The Best Interests of Baseball" (and you should) you know that Selig, though "officially" commissioner for only a short time, has been the acting commissioner of the game for over 2 decades. Unlike so many of the commissioners before him, Selig has the rare ability to connect with everyone and anyone around him, even when caught off-guard in a corner of the Hall. The kids, the dads, the moms, everybody spoke with him, and he entertained every one with a smile. Not a fake "You're the reason I play the game" smile, but the same smile you see when those same fans meet their favorite player.

You see, Selig is, as I've learned, a fan. He grew up a fan, he will likely die a fan. His fanaticism has both helped and hindered him during his career, but in the end, I believe he will be regarded as one of the more successful men to have ever held the title of "Commissioner of Baseball."

He can just as easily be criticized as he can be lauded for all he's done, and Lord knows I'm not a Selig homer.

But for today, he's alright in my book.