April 27, 2017

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (AP) Bud Selig has been to the Baseball Hall of Fame more times than he can remember. Still limping as he recovers from a stress fracture in his right leg, the 82-year-old former commissioner won't soon forget his latest visit - a tour to prepare for his induction this summer.

''Amazing. Amazing. It's almost hard to conceive,'' he said Thursday, sitting just a few feet from the wall where his plaque will hang after his induction in July. ''I didn't think anything could overwhelm me. This is overwhelming.''

Selig and longtime Atlanta Braves general manager John Schuerholz were elected in December by a veterans committee. Schuerholz was a unanimous pick and Selig appeared on all but one of the 16 ballots.

During his more than two decades as MLB's leader, Selig was instrumental in the approval of interleague play, the expansion of the playoffs, dividing each league into three divisions with wild cards, instituting video review and revenue sharing in an era that saw 20 new ballparks get constructed. He also oversaw the game when it went through the Steroids Era and canceled the 1994 World Series in the midst of a players' strike.

''Given everything - there are things that happened ... that are very sad - in the end I know what I set out to do and we pretty much accomplished it,'' said Selig, who teaches history at three colleges in his spare time. ''Yeah, there are things that happened that I think we reacted well to and got done what you had to get done. When I think of where we were in 1992 when I started and where we were when I left and where we are today, it's remarkable.''

Recently, Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star outfielder Starling Marte and Philadelphia pitcher Elniery Garcia were each suspended 80 games after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.

''I was saddened about Marte. He's a wonderful player,'' Selig said. ''But they've negotiated and the penalties are the toughest in American sports. By comparison, we by far have the toughest testing. I'm just sad that they have to be used at all. But our program is good and it's working. And it's working very well.''

Although a report last Sunday showed that the time for an average nine-inning game was up again - to 3 hours, 3 minutes - Selig said he wasn't concerned.

''The game has never been more popular,'' he said. ''This is not to suggest that we shouldn't work on ways (to improve things). The sport will get better and better and better. There's no question in my mind. We had no right to dream 25 years ago that the sport would be what it is today. I think somebody will be sitting in this chair 25 years from now and this sport will have grown again.''

If Selig had a nemesis during his tenure, the late Marvin Miller fit the bill as executive director of the Major League Baseball players' union from 1966-82. Miller, who died five years ago, is up for Hall of Fame consideration later this year and Selig said he belongs in the special fraternity.

''Marvin deserves to be in the Hall of Fame in my judgment. No question,'' Selig said. ''If the criteria, which is a fair one, is they made a big impact on the game, Marvin made an impact.''

Selig was a car dealer when he headed the group that purchased the Seattle Pilots in bankruptcy court in 1970 and moved the team to Milwaukee. On this day, he simply marveled at the past six decades.

''I remember as a kid walking the streets trying to get a team for Milwaukee, 30 years old, having no idea how this was all going to work out,'' Selig said. ''Didn't even know if we were going to get a team. Then you look at the next 52-53 years. This is a great day in my life.''

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AP Baseball Writer Ron Blum in New York contributed.

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More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

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