Transcript for Former MLB commissioner Bud Selig reflects on time leading league
Hi there and walk with a powerhouse politics and we have a very special guest today it has become. A all star week tradition for us last year we project cal Ripken junior this weird usery bring you another baseball hall of Famer Bud Selig. He ninth commissioner of Major League Baseball. And a man who led baseball for 22 of the most eventful. I an interest thing years in the history of the game mr. seelig welcome. Thank you pleasure to be here. So there's a lot of lot of things lot of ground I want to cover a lot of baseball to be played today but I want to start with a political story that you were count in the book in the in the 1990s during 1994 work stoppage that resulted in the cancellation of the World Series. Of the Clinton administration was quite involved in trying to make sure that there is C. In end to the conflict deceive baseball season. I'm and you were counts of particular episode with vice president Al Gore tell tells the story of of how you came to curse out Al Gore rather back. Ground down. President and who we lost the World Series tragic story. And labor peace ever since Seoul may be an old work organization in the book what. Com we were called to Washington. On October 14 Don Fehr head of the union myself and I went enemy President Clinton before. And Adam I knew what he wanted to be corners or David Glass who owns the Cannes city rose. At that time was chairman of Wal-Mart and Hillary Clinton was on his porridge and so he he would call me and he said and they want to bring him. A luxury re famous labor mediator. Our clubs really didn't want to do it but David said to me and I think we York too but it's up to you whatever you wanna do. Crumbs didn't wanna do but the president asked me and said whatever mr. history comes up I'll support them and Wilson. Well. I accept an accident and went over accepted to that was it. And now we battled and argue wouldn't hire you in battle although and horseshoe remarkable human being. And he had some problems ever since Perrier stroman and so while I mean he's a lot of experience. And Adam Powell it's February and I get called to Washington I have a committee a committee members are there. And said mr. rush it was you know mile morning sure enough. 7 o'clock in the morning the phone rang it was or archery. Amend them downstairs and he gave me his plan. They didn't like it too much but it is OK but not but look I had given my word. And he said I'll be back to undergo see the union well. The day's starter going on anonymous a lot of owners and we are altering get nervous calling every senator we know which row problem. And I'm nobody knew when he finally at 5 o'clock regular column B of the White House itself. Not a good sign Bryant. So we go the White House. I'm there was or foreign owners off committee. And down. We city and prayers are there about a player's. I'm fear of Pinoy of the union. And they get our the next thing you know I can she go grocery sitting own care. Now he and solve. Every labor problem that he had been given by every American president. And down. It was obvious it was on the part union did Mike. But we don't given their word enemy plane and once they suddenly every reassure other ways to win the wasted five months doing all the things were doing. Well. We took a break. And Leon Panetta came to get me and the president want this in me and talked about to only unions formally accepted this. Prison. And then always certain that was in them. Are open government came a lot of people as president gore it's an RP. And. President Clinton sort of drifted off and current price for an started talking about wise couldn't do it when Jordan. For a two for the little guys meaning small medium market. People in Pittsburgh Cincinnati Milwaukee Detroit and a man around bribery when Mike. And I finally blew open. Senator Mitchell and I were particularly close and on. He'd only the next Leon's it was. A temper tantrum not that I write it but we have given our word what did you say to vice president gore. Well. You siding with the union interview it was yeah Iowa is. An online and an occasion dropped a lot of F. Things and in it because. We had given a we have agreed that we were gonna accept go Austrian bill grocery. I had seen in the hallway in between. And economists like effort wishful. They were now connects and apologetic. He went to every American president sir it would quote unquote areas Truman to and so forth and he made him so. I've had enough and I sort of and I finally it was anyway it was ugly it was pretty wild for oh because. And all of it was a future of the game we worked our way around it went to a lot of tortured old news and news from the next year or two as a result of list. And but. Am alright and. As you mentioned 25 years since. Since then and there hasn't been another work stoppage baseball has grown exponentially during that time is interview with hindsight that it was. Necessary. Maybe even healthy. To go through what you did in 1984 that it had to happen well you know that's a great question. Be cores are totally wires or story yen. Sometimes. You have to go through some egg and get to worry one. Losing them 94 World Series was actually heartbreak. But this system was broken. The club's wanted to cap every other sport attic. And the way. We have worked their way around it to this day without one. But I guess I think future historians were really view that is something you have to go through they get to where we. Go to great. So you'd you talk in the book about. Clinton and gore also governor Tommy Thompson do you tangled with over over funding. Pop of the finance stadium in in Wisconsin. In your view overall when you dealt with politicians in your role he knew a lot of them as you said. Where they constructive where they productive conversations or was it a situation where politicians were getting involved made things messy well. It would depend on the issue in this stadium issue and look I understand that politicians are bare ground and I. It was a political science and history major and I understand all the things I have to go through on page a mixed bag. I'm I've had some very constructive wonderful relationship with people in the political area. Commission shall be room and crisp autonomy agreements with George Mitchell. They have no higher regard for any human Mars. Always knew worry wars and he gives. And ice in during their stadium battle. I want some Machiavellian behavior which was unfortunate. And wild there. They're gonna push back and obviously the factors are have a lot of witnesses to it that way as so I guess the answer is. I'm they expect but but not without a lot of good ones. So we had on the show couple months ago Tom Davis who was chairman of the oversight and Government Reform Committee during the very famous steroids hearing where we had images of Palmeiro and an old well you know you don't wells so. His his view on it it with with a little of hindsight is that the congressional involvement at that time. Was a galvanizing moment it forced sin issues into the into the open. What's your view I know you'd you'd used a lot of time talking about the steroid. I'd like congressman Davis do he was very constructive. But we were ready hard at work look. They banned steroids in 2000 for the two from one season in the minor leagues. It's but it's a subject of collective bargaining in in the major leagues and somehow people. Never quite understood the union was public. About fighting that mean. I meant at a one of American aldermen. On it. We have been through the cocaine near of the eighties and never had a drug testing program. And soul and brings would never had a drug testing program and here we are trying to we got one in all three long before any congressional hearing it was. Elements it was not what I wanted and needed to be a much tougher and we worked and now we did get called open in all five. And that's what. Tom Davis's talk about and he was very constructive. Act in answer your question I put him in the classic he tried to be hopeful. Others tried not to be so helpful but it was yet lot of headlines and so on and so forth and overall. I would say. They were there how helpful. A live history. So in other times the you look back and say I wish I could have her I wish I would have you make it you make compelling points about. How difficult it was to solve the intractable issues in 1994 and about confronting steroids peopled the commissioners not a god the commission doesn't get to just decree these things there. But when you look back in your time is there await do you finish that sentence I wish I would have you know I thought aloud about that I'm. My students often I and I teach councilman restore investor group can honestly tell you that I really don't have an issue that. We fought it. I'm sad about 94. Add about losing the World Series heartbreaking moment. But as we said earlier maybe things worked out we're irradiate you have to do Richard thinkers are ones they love their. The role of a commissioner in any sport. You have to understand army on whatever you do somebody's going to be me. It just and that's what you gotta do would you figures rate for the go to the game which is where the book. Talk a little bit about about. The son of a home run champions you talk a lot about your friendship with Henry Aaron going back sixty years and then bring him back to Milwaukee the end of his career and obviously being in touch in the decade since. You dealt with during your time the the heralded chase by Barry Bonds against the Aaron record. I'm you have an interest in take on bonds vs A-Rod in an that I wanna get two and a moment but but in your mind is Henry Aaron still the home run champion baseball. Well I've trying to tear and look. I feel. Was fortunate. To watch Henry and his career award tree and to watch him break babe Ruth's record bring him back from Milwaukee. Remarkable human being in a we're lucky case. When you think of the great American icons and aaron's room. And let them and they are with Aaron isn't no baseball. There's no question. Again there are the same feeling a lot Barry. And but. Other than that I just after directors be. Some talk about Barry Bonds vs Alex Rodriguez because you have it a kind of a new ones take on this that I think is instructive for how baseball. Charts not just its record books and and it's remembrances but maybe if a path forward beyond that. Ural you come down a lot harder on Barry Bonds than you do Alex Rodriguez talk about why. Well only because I felt. And we've talked about two steroid use issue. And I have just don't that. I've been brought up and I've watched prayers owners. All constituencies. Who really cared about the game and put the carrying of the game for themselves. And then dance in a great sense our market people and I know Alex and I had some difficulty uses a release on Tuesday. But I became the fire conclude just watching people watching them up close and CO. I want to ask you about 9/11. Another moment that. Figures prominently in the political world and you'll remember the reaction in the sports rolled baseball. I cancel gains for I think it was a week after nine elevenths. And then of course the World Series right here in New York City that featured George W. Bush throwing out that that first pitch you got a chance to interact with him a little bit and at at and around that what did you make of the role of political leadership coming together. With baseball. At that time California sesame in American history American history great I really do because the tragedy was obvious. Waited. Six days to resume play. I often tell the story I was so nervous. Before that Monday night when we came back where we get to the World Series. And I was comfortable I talked to everybody including a pair of United States who was. Not have been more helpful and lose. Why have archery or four and I I AM. We've finally opened up. I was sitting room are my little granddaughters. And watch in the game and it was a pregame of the cardinals and the brewers. From Saint Louis and there's checkbook for image Jack mark great man. Great announcement. And he read a whole new written and abuse occurred. And it the end he said it's in the boy. Should we be heard in eight and with center crowd rose who's standing. And I cried a little granddaughter couldn't understand why. And he. The rest of that here are a hole in our own way we hope the country own little Wales. And now you talk about the World Series Ayman backs in the great world's. That third game in New York I been a lot of ball parks and I've never been an. Potential first wanted to know what we're closer came in new Yorker that Syria addicts right. Walking around and and I went down to see the president sail alone thank him for everything and he was warming up a new that you can split and the united now known Ito long times. We talked room at Derek Jeter warm Miami. Came over to sales alone. Eric as he walked away only he could say this in more ways that don't also gonna. Accidentally. It got a chuckle lot of media a smile a lot of the president. But he was his wife and when he went out on the mound and they chanted USA and people crying lose. You know I refer to baseball as a social institution that was great. And it was a perfect strike from the former owner of the rangers' history they'll look at the bulletproof vests and everything right. I'm curious your take about the that the White House visits that have come up recently and now with the USA soccer the women's team potentially being invited it may come up again we saw that the the the dilemma that many Red Sox players had recently about whether to attend. I saw an intriguing suggestion floated by dale Murphy the former braves great recently that said that the owners should protect the players in this case and say look people are being used players who uses political props by politicians. There should be no more White House visits as long as were in this kind of polarized political environment. What's your take on on whether it's appropriate to either go or not go. I think your team estimate. But the team to stick together as a posted into the well there's a IU. Oftentimes they duel and sometimes they don't and the reds are skiers out of her interest and goal. And I think are appropriate I sit before basement of social institutions. Social institutions as you want nine no I'm not perfect. And they'll have these in but I really believe that each individual player army and. I want to I want to allow you to become. Emperor baseball for a moment because a lot of us play this game if you were commissioner what would what rules would you change right. And an obviously the commissioner can't just decree that three balls equals a walk or or anything of the like but. When you look at the game right now if you could play emperor and make a rules change or or some kind of a change what would it be when you watch the game well. And I think they're ringgit there commissioner Manfred and his people are now working on his shoes correct. I mean you're going to look for ways. To speed the game. And games him you know taken longer they play it differently relief pitchers better. Use from the fifth and sixth inning I'm now on and so things and that's I guess the only thing answer is that's what I would address and they are addressing. How would you do mean it is this radical pols like putting a runner on second act known on my windows and no I you know I I am more change at any commissioners. But I'm still conservative that. No I wouldn't even think of them are generally have things like which clocks and talk about Henry Aaron I don't think Henry when Miami Tommy and his 23 years. He never gone out of that matters much once and a member in those days drysdale local frightened and I'm gives them. You might pay a I should make you feel it if you got out yes. That's kind of thing and I'm just curious as we close here in the all the issues the U face as Commissioner of Baseball to lonely job or your under fire yet Ted Williams tell you what do. What a horrific job. If you get on a weekly basis and it was great because you call you up. He called me up all the time I every every once a week. And he sent out you have the worst people and job in America and then then he'd go into when he wondered. Who who did you have an inner circle that you talked the commissioners have other leaves the concern from the NBA there's a lot of over what I did there is overlap cardinal you know I was pretty. Close to a lot of owners threats. Whether we agreed are not your mileage and tell the stories in the book about a month George Steinbrenner Yahoo!. And we never agreed on much of anything after he ran the Yankees amount of Ryan the brewers amendment grizzard. We get we were very close friends. And that's I guess. Column I just knew everybody start I spent endless hours every day nobody could trigger an on on the phone. What. All the people involved at their franchise involve it was important the national the name of the book and because. I had been taught Emma and in the end I think owners were great they did in the end even if it pained him. And it was with a motive but don't arts and people remain calls. And the book is titled for the good of the game tremendous stories from decades them running is the commissioner of Major League Baseball Bud Selig baseball hall of Famer thanks for being here. Pleasure to be with that does it for this edition of powerhouse politics will be back later in the week with our regular episode until then thanks for listening.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.