BALTIMORE — Rob Manfred, a high-ranking executive in Major League Baseball for many years, was chosen Thursday by the league's owners to succeed Bud Selig as commissioner, one of the most powerful positions in sports.
Manfred was confirmed after two or three ballots by baseball's 30 owners, who convened in a closed-door ballroom in downtown Baltimore. In initial balloting, he received 22 votes, one short of what he needed. Hours later, he reportedly was unanimously elected.
"I am tremendously honored by the confidence owners showed in me," Manfred said. "I have very big shoes to fill."
"There is no doubt in my mind he has the temperament, the training, the experience," said Selig, 80, who had said several times that he was considering retirement. He will step down in January.
Tom Werner, an owner of the Red Sox, and Tim Brosnan, baseball's executive vice president for business, were the other finalists. Brosnan withdrew from the race shortly before voting began.
"We have to figure out ways to make it relevant to that 12-year-old," Giants president Larry Baer said. "I have four children, and we want to make baseball as relevant as possible to them with their handheld and on television and getting more people playing the sport. Those are all big challenges, and I think Rob sees all of those in his purview, and I think he's ready to attack."
Werner received the eight votes in the first round that did not go to Manfred. It took a number of hours, and at least one recess, before a 23rd owner agreed to end to an election process that was increasingly contentious.
Werner was supported by White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf and Angels owner Arte Moreno. Other teams have said Reinsdorf wanted a commissioner who would take a harsher stance in labor negotiations.
"While Rob may not have been my initial choice for commissioner, the conclusion of a very good process was to name Rob as the person best positioned to help baseball endure and grow even stronger for the next generation of fans," Reinsdorf said in a statement.
Under Selig's watch, Major League Baseball has grown into a business that brings in $8 billion in annual revenue. The league and its players union have also enjoyed an unusually long period of labor peace in recent years.
Manfred was set up to be Selig's handpicked successor. He played important behind-the-scenes roles since he began working for baseball full time in 1998. For 15 years, he was an executive vice president, in charge of labor relations and the sport's increasing efforts to crack down on performance-enhancing drugs.
"I think some of Rob's greatest attributes are his ability to reach consensus," said Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr., who chaired the committee that picked the three candidates.