Baltimore, MD (SportsNetwork.com) - Major League Baseball chief operating officer Rob Manfred has been elected as the sport's next commissioner following a contentious day of meetings between owners.
Manfred, who has served as a league executive since 1998, will officially replace the retiring Bud Selig and become the 10th commissioner in MLB history in January.
"I am truly honored to have been elected by the clubs of Major League Baseball, and I will work every day to honor their faith and support," said Manfred during a press conference held following his election. "I humbly extend my gratitude to all of our clubs. I also thank Bud Selig for his mentorship, friendship and his record of accomplishment as our sport's Commissioner. We have the greatest game in the world, and together, all of the contributors to our sport can make its future even brighter."
Manfred's appointment to baseball's highest post did not come without opposition, however. He fell one vote shy of the 23 required during Thursday's initial balloting and a consensus had still yet to be reached after a second poll was taken.
The decision ultimately went to a third vote, of which Manfred was unanimously approved once the eight dissenting owners eventually relented.
A group led by Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf had been attempting to block Manfred from election, with Boston Red Sox chairman Tom Werner their preferred choice. According to the New York Daily News, the White Sox, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Nationals, Angels, Athletics, Diamondbacks and Reds all had backed Werner in the first round of voting.
MLB executive vice president Tim Brosnan also had been a candidate at the start of the day, but withdrew from consideration prior to the first vote.
Following the first stalemate, a second vote was taken in which owners were asked to either approve or disapprove Manfred. That too resulted in a 22-8 split.
After the second vote, USA Today reported that Selig met privately with Reinsdorf in an apparent attempt to sway him to change his support to Manfred, whom the commissioner had been lobbying as his successor.
Manfred joined the MLB office as the league's executive vice president of labor relations and human resources in 1998 and held that position for 14 years. He successfully negotiated three successive agreements with the players association during that period, with the game having avoided a work stoppage during Manfred's entire time in office.
The 55-year-old also helped implement baseball's current drug testing program, one of the most stringent policies in sports.
"Without fanfare or glory, Rob has assembled a long and proven record of helping the game excel in fundamental ways," said St. Louis Cardinals chief executive officer Bill DeWitt, Jr. "He combines great intellect and forward- thinking creativity with unwavering respect for the contributions of the game's many constituents. The owners wholeheartedly support Rob?s vision for the future of the national pastime, and we are proud that he will succeed Commissioner Selig in January."
Manfred was promoted to MLB's executive vice president for economics and league affairs in 2012, then was named baseball's COO a year later.
"Having worked with Rob for more than 20 years, and knowing the training he has had within our great game, I believe he is an outstanding choice who will bring true passion and leadership to Major League Baseball," said Selig.
Selig, who turned 80 on July 30, announced last September that he would end his 22-year tenure as commissioner once his current contract expires on January 24.
During Selig's reign, baseball split the American and National League into three divisions each with a wild card for expanded playoffs, implemented interleague play, added a second wild card and also introduced instant replay.
Selig's time as commissioner was not without controversy, however. Performance-enhancing drug scandals had been prevalent under his watch prior to his authoring of the current drug policy, while his early tenure was also marred by a lengthy players strike in 1994 that caused the cancellation of that year's World Series and entire postseason.