Major League Baseball Commissioner, Bud Selig, will be this year’s speaker at the McLane Lecture at 12 p.m. Wednesday, April 22, in the Mayborn Campus Center.
The event, sponsored by the College of Business, brings recognized speakers to the university to promote awareness and information about issues concerning business.
Dean of the College of Business, Dr. Jim King, said he wants students to gain exposure to a high-profile individual who can have an impact on their careers.
“Selig’s talk will be on baseball as a social institution,” King said. “It will be about Major League Baseball’s reaction to the economy, but it will also be bigger than that.”
The lecture is underwritten by Temple resident, chairman of the McLane Group, and owner and CEO of the Houston Astros, Drayton McLane Jr.
“He’s one of the best leaders I have ever met,” McLane said of Selig. “He has high personal integrity and big ideas. It’s an honor to have him as a speaker. He’s from Milwaukee, and he’s coming a long way to visit. He agreed when I told him how great UMHB is.”
King said that the lecture is McLane’s attempt to do something for UMHB students that is unusual.
“In the past, we have had former president, George H.W. Bush, and former first lady, Barbara Bush, speak, and now we have Bud Selig. These people rarely speak at small schools and hardly ever even at large schools. The students are lucky to have a friend like Drayton McLane.”
Selig recalled his 17-year friendship with McLane.
“Drayton and I are very close, and I have great admiration and respect for Mr. McLane,” Selig said. “We met through baseball, and we have become very close friends. We talk almost on a daily basis.”
Selig said that one of his greatest challenges as commissioner is to make certain that balance is maintained.
“The teams in small markets can be just as competitive as teams in big markets or medium markets,” he said. “In the last 17 years that I have done this job, we’ve done a lot of things that promote that so Houston has just as good of a chance as the Yankees and Pittsburgh has just as good of a chance as L.A. I’d like to change the economic order of the system, but I’m very proud of where we are.”
Selig’s personal experience in being commissioner can aid Crusaders in preparing for the world of business.
McLane said, “Students learn from their professors, but his job is five of the six most highly recognized offices in the U.S. This is a wonderful opportunity for people to see an accomplished person.”
The commissioner will also be able to share with students his delight in involvement with baseball.
“I love what it does for so many people and setting attendance records and watching how successful the sport has become in the last two decades,” Selig said.
Although the U.S. is in an economic recession, the commissioner is still confident about the future of Major League Baseball.
“So far, I must tell you, I feel very good about where we are. There’s no question that this is a very significant downturn, the worst since the Great Depression, and so we’re watching it with a wary eye, but we’re good at this time,” Selig said.
The commissioner also feels that a salary cap will not be in the near future for the sport.
“We have had other things that we have used that have really changed the economics, and I never say never to anything, but it’s probably not likely,” Selig said.
In the past decade, there has been much scrutiny over the use of steroids in Major League Baseball, and Selig has testified before Congress about performance-enhancing drug use.
“We’ve handled the steroid situation,” he said. “We now have the toughest testing program in American sports. We’ve banned amphetamines, and I’m very proud of where we are with that issue, and the future of baseball looks very bright.”
Along with a bright future, the commissioner thinks Major League Baseball is going in a positive direction.
“The game has never been more popular, and its future is unlimited,” he said. “We’ve broken attendance records in four of the last five years. The gross revenue is more than I’ve expected tremendously and dramatically.”
McLane plans to be present Wednesday alongside his confidant.
“I will be at the lecture. I want to be involved,” he said. “I’ll be introducing him and sharing this special friend. There will be a lot of Central Texas business leaders there as well to welcome him.”
McLane also anticipates what the Lord has planned for the university.
“God is doing great things there,” he said “It’s grown, prospered and is stronger today than it’s ever been. Young people at UMHB can grow as leaders and as Christians.”
King said the College of Business and the university are extremely appreciative for all that McLane has done for the school and for having Selig come as a guest speaker.
“Students will remember this for a long time,” King said. “It’s very prestigious for the College of Business to be hosting this event.”
This will be the commissioner’s first visit to Belton, and he is eager to arrive.
“I’m looking forward to being there,” Selig said. “I’m really very excited.”