MLB: Bud Selig to retire as Major League Baseball commissioner in 2015
Last Updated: 26/09/13 10:47pm
Bud Selig: Has been MLB chief since 1992
Bud Selig will step down as Major League Baseball commissioner in January 2015, it has been announced.
A statement on the MLB website confirmed that the 79-year-old, who took up the role on an interim basis in 1992, will "formally step down from the office".
Selig is credited with restoring popularity in baseball and has overseen a number of significant changes, including the introduction of three divisions in each league as well as adding a wild card berth to expand the play-offs.
The former Milwaukee Brewers owner also risked the wrath of baseball traditionalists when he gave the all-clear for inter-league play for the first time in 1997.
Selig was widely criticised for his part in the cancellation of the 1994 World Series due to labour negotiating disputes, while his time in office has also been blighted by numerous drug scandals among star players.
But Selig has now installed one of the most stringent drug-testing programmes in world sport in a bid to stamp out the use of steriods and other performance-enhancing drugs.
"I am grateful to the owners throughout Major League Baseball for their unwavering support and for allowing me to lead this great institution," Selig said in a statement.
"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."
Chicago White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf was one of the first to pay tribute to Selig's transformation of the sport.
"When you step back and view the dramatic transformation Major League Baseball has undergone during Bud Selig's tenure as commissioner, it is truly quite astounding," said Reinsdorf.
"A social institution with a long and rich history like baseball is often very resistant and slow to change, yet Commissioner Selig has introduced dramatic, sweeping innovations to improve the game like expanded playoffs, comprehensive drug testing and competitive balance."
Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr added: "Bud has done tremendous things for baseball over the last two decades and anyone who knows him understands the passion for and love of the game that he brings to the job.
"His ideas and innovation have vaulted baseball's popularity and his resolve to maintain the game's integrity are things that many of us will remember about his tenure."
Among the other innovations during Selig's tenure are the introduction of instant replays for boundary calls in 2008, while it was also decided that the winner of the annual All-Star game would secure home-field advantage for the relevant league in the World Series.