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Wednesday, September 18
Ex-commissioner says Selig waited Bush out news services

MILWAUKEE -- How close was President George W. Bush to becoming baseball commissioner?

If a new book by former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent is to be believed, very close.

"Fay, what do you think about me becoming commissioner?" Bush asked Vincent several months after Vincent was forced out as commissioner in September 1992. Bush owned the Texas Rangers at the time.

"I think it's a great idea," Vincent said.

"Do you think I'd make a good commissioner?" Bush asked Vincent.

"Absolutely," Vincent answered. "You're smart. You love baseball. Is it something you want?"

Replied Bush: "Well, I've been thinking about it. (Bud) Selig tells me that he would love to have me be commissioner and he tells me that he can deliver it."

Vincent recalled the conversation in his new book, "The Last Commissioner." It was reported in Wednesday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinal.

Selig was baseball's acting commissioner at the time. According to the book, Vincent recalled: "All my alarms went ringing at once."

Vincent has been a critic of Selig's since leaving the commissioner's job a decade ago. He blames Selig, among others, for forcing him out. He was highly critical of baseball management during this summer's labor negotiations.

Vincent is also close with Bush's father, George H.W. Bush, and his mother, Barbara. He writes extensively about that relationship in the book.

According to the Journal Sentinal story, Vincent once talked with Major League Baseball labor lawyer Chuck O'Connor about Vincent's relationship with Selig. O'Connor, he wrote, "had warned me to look out for Selig, that Selig wanted to be commissioner and that he would try to knock me off. I didn't believe him. Selig was my friend, I thought."

Vincent quoted O'Connor: "Selig thinks being called commissioner is one of the important titles in American life. He thinks it would make him a great American, a historic figure. He wants your job. Watch out for him."

Vincent said he told Bush that Selig wanted to be the commissioner. Bush said that Selig had told him he wasn't interested.

"George, I'm worried. I think Selig wants the job for himself," Vincent wrote.

Bush: "He told me that I'm still his man but that it will take some time to work out."

Vincent: "George, he can't tell you the truth because the truth is painful and telling painful truths is not his strength. He has never been able to tell people what they don't want to hear."

Bush later ran for governor of Texas. He was elected president in 2000.

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