Commissioner Bud Selig is officially retiring in January 2015, Major League Baseball announced.
A press conference was scheduled for Thursday afternoon.
Selig, 79, has said that he plans to retire at the end of the 2014 season.
“It remains my great privilege to serve the game I have loved throughout my life,” Selig said in a statement. “Baseball is the greatest game ever invented, and I look forward to continuing its extraordinary growth and addressing several significant issues during the remainder of my term.
“I am grateful to the owners throughout Major League Baseball for their unwavering support and for allowing me to lead this great institution. I thank our players, who give me unlimited enthusiasm about the future of our game. Together we have taken this sport to new heights and have positioned our national pastime to thrive for generations to come. Most of all, I would like to thank our fans, who are the heart and soul of our game.”
Selig was named acting commissioner in 1992 after Fay Vincent was removed by the owners and had the acting tag removed in 1998.
“Bud understands how to get things done in this game, and his record speaks for itself — especially in helping the small markets like the one where he and I first met more than 60 years ago,” Hall of Famer Hank Aaron said in a statement. “When he retires, he will leave our game in a far better state than when he started. The Commissioner has been a marvelous leader for Baseball. I am so proud of all that my friend has done for the game we love.”
Selig implemented a comprehensive performance enhancing drug testing policy in MLB after a steroids scandal rocked the sport in the past decade. The scandal was dealt with first with the independent Mitchell Report in 2007, led by Senator George Mitchell of Maine. Earlier this summer, MLB suspended more than a dozen players stemming from the Biogenesis investigation by the league.
“Commissioner Selig took bold action by personally choosing to initiate an independent examination of the sport,” Mitchell said in a statement. “I believe that difficult step allowed Baseball to chart its future course with vigor, precision and transparency. When the Commissioner asked me to conduct that examination, he pledged his full support and my complete independence, even though neither he nor I could then know what I would eventually find and report. He kept his word and never wavered from that commitment. In the years since I issued the report, I have been pleased that the commissioner has brought baseball to a leadership stature on the issue of performance-enhancing drugs in sports and to an example that now stands out as worthy of emulation.”
MLB also sustained a strike in 1994 that cancelled the World Series and extended into part of the 1995 season under Selig. However, the sport is guaranteed labor peace at least until the current collective bargaining agreement expires in 2016.
Selig bought the Seattle Pilots in 1970 and moved them to Milwaukee, where the team became the Brewers. He sold his stake in the team after becoming commissioner.
“There would be no Major League Baseball in Milwaukee without Bud Selig, and there very well might be no Major League Baseball in many of our smaller cities without the economic changes instituted by commissioner Selig,” Brewers chairman/principal owner Mark Attanasio said in a statement. “Teams from small and midsize cities can compete as a result of his innovations and the expanded Postseason. Equally important, the commissioner has championed diversity issues to ensure equal opportunity to participate in the national pastime.”