Rob Manfred was elected baseball's 10th commissioner Thursday, winning a three-man race to succeed Bud Selig and given a mandate by the tradition-bound sport to recapture young fans and speed play in an era that has seen competition increase and attention spans shrink.
Manfred, who has worked for Major League Baseball in roles with ever-increasing authority since 1998, will take over from the 80-year-old Selig on Jan. 25.
Manfred, 55, beat out Boston Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner in the first contested vote for a new commissioner in 46 years. The third candidate, MLB Executive Vice President of Business Tim Brosnan, withdrew just before the start of balloting.
Selig has led baseball since September 1992, first as chairman of the sport's executive council after Fay Vincent's forced resignation and as commissioner since July 1998.
One baseball executive who attended the meeting in Baltimore, speaking on condition of anonymity because details of the 41/2-hour session were not to be divulged, said Manfred was elected on approximately the sixth ballot. The initial vote was 20-10 for Manfred, three short of the required three-quarters majority.
His total increased to 21 on the second and 22 on the third. Manfred's total dropped to 20, then increased back to 22 before a dinner break. He got the needed 23rd vote on the next, apparently from Washington. Owners then made the final vote unanimous. The person said it appeared Arizona, Boston, the Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati, the Los Angeles Angels, Oakland and Toronto had been the final holdouts.
"What I said to the owners when I came down after the vote is that I didn't really want to even think about who was on what side of what issue at points in the process," Manfred said, "and that my commitment to the owners was that I would work extremely hard day in and day out to convince all 30 of them that they had made a great decision today."
White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf and Toronto president Paul Beeston spoke out strongly against Manfred, the person said. Angels owner Arte Moreno joined Reinsdorf in leading Werner's support.
Longtime MLB executive will replace Bud Selig on Jan. 25.