NEW YORK -- Major League Baseball on Thursday announced the formation of a search committee to find a successor to commissioner Bud Selig, who is sticking with his plan to retire in January 2015 after 22 years in the position.
Selig, 79, revealed his intention to step down as commissioner in September 2013. But the announcement has generated skepticism in some quarters because of his professed desire to leave in the past, only to stay at the behest of team owners. This time, Selig insists, his decision is final.
"I determined last fall that there's a time to come in life and a time to go, and I had determined it's the time to go,'' Selig said at a news conference at MLB headquarters. "There's no sense playing any games. I know they've rehired me four or five times and people kept thinking that was going to happen again, but it's not.
"A lot of people, including my family, have had difficulty accepting this. But it's been real to me for a long time. I meant what I said last [fall]. I've accepted it for the last five or six months.''
Bill DeWitt Jr., principal owner and CEO of the St. Louis Cardinals, will chair the search committee. Other members are Colorado Rockies owner Dick Monfort; Philadelphia Phillies president David Montgomery; Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno; Pittsburgh Pirates chairman Bob Nutting; Minnesota Twins CEO Jim Pohlad; and Chicago White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf.
DeWitt declined to reveal a time frame but said the search process will be confidential "out of respect for the candidates.'' He said the field is "wide open,'' and candidates from within and outside baseball will be considered.
The search committee will eventually present its findings to MLB's executive council, which will put the names of one or multiple candidates up for a vote. Approval of 23 of the 30 teams is required to elect a commissioner.
Selig became acting commissioner in 1992 and was unanimously elected to the position in 1998. He will retire with the second-longest tenure for a commissioner behind Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who held the position from 1920 to 1944.
Among the names being mentioned in speculation as potential successors to Selig: MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred; Bob Bowman, CEO of MLB Advanced Media; Tim Brosnan, baseball's executive vice president for business; investment banker Steve Greenberg, who was deputy commissioner under Fay Vincent; Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio; Atlanta Braves chairman Terry McGuirk, Arizona Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall; former Yale president Rick Levin; former President George W. Bush; and former NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol.
"We're obviously looking for a strong CEO and a visionary leader who has a passion for the game and will look to maintain the integrity of the game,'' DeWitt said. "We're looking for someone who will build on the tremendous accomplishments and legacy of Bud Selig.
"The process goes much more smoothly if there isn't all kinds of speculation of names and lists and who's being considered. We don't expect that and hope there won't be any of that.''
The commissioner search committee was the most prominent of several items on the agenda at the owners' meetings. In other news, Selig said MLB received a positive report on the use of expanded instant replay, which continues to evolve in its first season.
"Everybody has a little problem here and there,'' he said. "But I agree with Tony La Russa and Joe Torre. I think it's been remarkable. Even the polling data is wonderful. Our fans like it, and it's making the game better.''