MILWAUKEE -- As promised, Commissioner Bud Selig was at Miller Park on Saturday night as the Brewers played their first home postseason game in 26 years, Game 3 of their National League Division Series against the Phillies.What's more, the founder and former owner of the Brewers has accepted an invitation to throw out the first pitch before Sunday's Game 4. "I guess that's not a secret," Selig, a native of Milwaukee, told a bevy of media, "but if I don't, I'm going to do it in front of my house."
Selig watched Saturday as Bob Uecker, the club's legendary play-by-play radio announcer, threw out the first pitch at the club's first home postseason game since Game 5 of the 1982 World Series. Selig applauded that selection, even ribbed Uecker a little."No, I hired him in '71, and everyone in their career is embarrassed about something they did. That's my embarrassment," said Selig, poking fun at his old friend who won the Baseball Hall of Fame's 2003 Frick Award. Selig said that he has to remain impartial as Commissioner. "But I have to tell you that it was a thrill coming to this ballpark tonight," said Selig, making his first appearance of this postseason. As owner he also fought a tough civic battle to build Miller Park, which replaced County Stadium in 2001. Speaking about first pitches, Selig was one of two people to toss one out on the ballpark's Opening Day that season. The other was President George W. Bush, who had been elected only five months earlier. "This is a very good day for Milwaukee and Wisconsin, a very emotional day. I've been here for about an hour and a half and it's been very emotional having so many people come up to me. I know how emotional it is in Tampa, too. It's not so emotional in Anaheim or Chicago right now." Like the Brewers, the Angels, Cubs and White Sox are all trailing their playoff series, 2-0, at this point to the Red Sox, Dodgers and Rays, respectively. As he said earlier in the week, Selig ranked revenue sharing, the Wild Card berths and labor peace as his top three accomplishments. The Wild Card and three-division formats were adopted in 1994; the sport has not undergone a work stoppage since the strike that shortened both the 1994 and 1995 seasons; and revenue sharing was adopted permanently in the labor negotiations that gave birth to the 2002 Basic Agreement. "There is no question, as painful as the '90s were, we've achieved what we set out to," he said. "Is the system perfect? No. But in 1996, we went to $50 million in revenue sharing. Today, it's more than $410 million. It's a huge number. Therefore, you have more competitive balance. We couldn't say that in the '90s. For a small-market team to win, it was almost impossible. "Every so often you might get one club that snuck in for one year, but now you've got Tampa, Minnesota went to the end of the line, and you've got Milwaukee here. I think this sport has more competitive balance today than it's ever had." And it's also more profitable. Though Major League Baseball attendance declined slightly in 2008, at 78.6 million tickets sold, it was the second highest total in history, just as gross revenues continued to increase to $6.5 billion, setting a record for the sport. When Selig took over as interim Commissioner in 1992, gross revenue was less than $2 billion. "The year has been a fabulous success, given the economy and the gas prices," Selig said. "The support for the sport is so good, the renaissance of the sport is good, I guess it's my job to keep it that way."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.