Well, as expected, John Schuerholz and Bud Selig were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday by the Today’s Game committee. Schuerholz was voted in unanimously; he got all 16 votes. Selig got 15 of the 16.
I figured there were enough votes for one more person to come close, but as it turns out there there were not. Lou Piniella got seven of the 16 votes — you needed 12 to get in. None of the other candidates got even five votes. I’m a bit surprised it was Piniella and not Steinbrenner who garnered moderate support, but it doesn’t really matter. This was the John and Bud Show from the start.
There’s a lot more to come on the enormous impact of Bud Selig on the game … and on John Schuerholz’s reasons for success. For now, though,here’s one quick Bud Selig story. It happened years ago, when I was columnist in Kansas City. I had written a column about hope, and how it was lacking in baseball. This was around the time when the money gap between the richest teams and the poorest was more or less the only topic of conversation in places like Kansas City and Minnesota and Milwaukee and the like. You might remember that the subtitle of the classic “Moneyball” is “The Art of Winning an Unfair Game.”
In any case, I wrote this thing about the lack of hope in Kansas City on Opening Day and how hard that was for a baseball town.
The next day, I got a call from Bud Selig. It was one of those “Can you please hold for Commissioner Selig” type calls, and I held, and he came on. I had never spoken with him before. He told me that he had read my column (this was shocking to me; it was before the rise of the Internet) in the day before Internet) and he wanted me to know that it had moved him and that his biggest mission as commissioner of baseball was to bring hope back to places like Kansas City.
“Someday,” he told me, “you will be writing a column about the Kansas City Royals in the World Series.”
In the years that followed, I talked with Bud Selig many times, usually when he disagreed with something that I wrote. But I never forgot that first call. Bud Selig was a man determined to reshape baseball, and he did reshape the game in countless ways that people still argue about today. But always, I think, he was a baseball fan first, a hot-dog-with-mustard, stand-and-sing-during-the-seventh-inning-stretch, take-your-kids-to-the-game, baseball fan who believed deeply in the power of hope on Opening Day.