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The Commissioner of Baseball is the chief executive of Major League Baseball. The office was established in 1920. The current commissioner is Allan H. Selig; he is slated to be succeeded by Rob Manfred on January 25, 2015.
The office was established by the club owners in order to reestablish the confidence of fans in the sport following the Black Sox Scandal the previous year. The Major Leagues already had an executive committee, the National Commission, which was established following the National Agreement of 1903, but it was seen as ineffective.
The National League proposed to replace the National Commission with one leader, a man "of unquestionable reputation and standing in fields other than baseball" whose "mere presence would assure that public interests would first be served, and that therefore, as a natural sequence, all existing evils would disappear." This proposal was called the Lasker Plan, named after Albert Lasker, a stockholder in the Chicago Cubs. Five of the American League clubs initially balked at the idea, with only the New York, Chicago and Boston clubs agreeing with the Nationals. This sparked a bitter debate, and there were plans put forth for a "New National League". Eventually a compromise was reached, and on November 12, 1920, the position of Baseball Commissioner was created with the ratification of the new Major League Agreement.
The title of "Commissioner" was derives from its predecessor, the National Commission. The first appointee was Kenesaw Mountain Landis, a respecdted federal judge who had previously made rulings on baseball matters.
The commissioner is chosen by a vote of the owners of the teams. He hires and maintains the sport's crews of umpires, negotiates marketing, labor (Collective Bargaining Agreement), and television contracts. The commissioner also has the power to fine and suspend
Commissioners of Baseball
|Commissioner||Start of Term||End of Term||Years|
|Kenesaw Mountain Landis||November 12, 1920||November 25, 1944||24|
|A.B. "Happy" Chandler||April 24, 1945||July 15, 1951||7|
|Ford Frick||September 20, 1951||November 16, 1965||14|
|William Eckert||November 17, 1965||November 20, 1968||3|
|Bowie Kuhn||February 4, 1969||September 30, 1984||16|
|Peter Ueberroth||October 1, 1984||September 30, 1988||4|
|A. Bartlett Giamatti||April 1, 1989||September 1, 1989||1|
|Fay Vincent||September 13, 1989||September 7, 1992||3|
|Bud Selig||September 7, 1992 see notes||January 25, 2015||25|
|Rob Manfred||January 25, 2015|
- Selig was formally appointed commissioner on July 2, 1998, before then he was the "acting commissioner".
- Jerome Holtzman: The Commissioners: Baseball's Midlife Crisis, Total Sports Publishing, Kingston, NY, 1998.
- Ron Kaplan: "The Commissiomer versus His Employer: Selig and His Predecessors", in The Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Volume 38, Number 1 (Summer 2009), pp. 123-124.
- Larry Moffi: The Conscience of the Game: Baseball's Commissioners from Landis to Selig, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE, 2006.
- Andrew Zimbalist: In the Best Interests of Baseball ? The Revolutionary Reign of Bud Selig, John Wiley and Sons, Hoboken, NJ, 2006.