Because I believe strongly in the rights of pigeons to have a place to roost, I wholeheartedly support the building of the Bud Selig statue outside of the Milwaukee Brewers taxpayer-funded stadium, Miller Park. Given the number of people in Brew City who have attended games over the decades with the dear hope that they could catch even a fleeting glimpse of the great Selig, it’s a fitting tribute. I know when I was growing up that Cecil Cooper, Robin Yount, Paul Molitor and other Brewers were just afterthoughts to the man who led the team to zero World Series titles during his time as chief executive and then had the wisdom to hand the team to his equally inept daughter Wendy. During his time as owner, Selig also made sure that the taxpayers of Milwaukee built a park off the interstate far from the city’s struggling downtown and depressed urban neighborhoods. Perhaps the statue is a tribute to the spirit of interstate renewal
But maybe it’s Bud’s eighteen years as Major League Baseball commissioner that has earned him the honor of artistic commemoration. After all, his years spent reciting the economic catechism of publicly funded ballparks has turned around thriving cities like Oakland, Cleveland and Detroit. He has been the shrewd overseer of a sport whose all-star game scored lower ratings than Lebron James’s announcement on what team he will join. Looking out for the best interests of the game, he also watched the steroid era unfold and then made sure blame was foisted on a crew of players while he is able to keep his job… and get statues! But the number-one reason Bud deserves this honor is his absolutely remarkable work with “minority communities.” Just ask him. Or the public relations firm in his employ.
This is exactly what three very prominent Milwaukee activists did in July. Their names are Christine Neumann-Ortiz, the executive director of Voces de la Frontera; Michael D. Rosen the president of the American Federation of Teachers Local 212; and former Wisconsin Secretary of State Vel Phillips. They specifically wanted to know how someone who trumpets his support of “minority communities” could possibly consent to hold the 2011 All-Star Game in Arizona when that state under the leadership of their execrable Governor Jan Brewer has become ground zero for racial profiling and prejudice.
Here, obtained exclusively, is their letter to Selig and the response of his public relations firm.
Dear Mr. Bud Selig, Commissioner of Major League Baseball:
We are writing to request a meeting with you to discuss the Major League Baseball’s (MLB) plans to hold the 2011 All Star game in Phoenix, Arizona. As Milwaukeeans who are committed to social justice, fair play and equal protection under the law, we are requesting the meeting to discuss the implications of holding the All Star game in Arizona in light of the state’s recently enacted legislation, SB 1070, which institutionalizes racial profiling.…
We believe that MLB plays a special role in the United States. Our ‘national past time’ has been instrumental in promoting the American ideals of justice, fair play and equality for all. In the words of former Commissioner Faye Vincent "MLB is a moral force.
The success of immigrants like Ichiro Suzuki (Japan), Fernando Valenzuela (Mexico), Luis Aparicio (Venezuela), the Alou brothers (Dominican Republic), Sandy Amoros (Cuba), Ferguson Jenkins (Canada) and first generation Americans, like Hank Greenberg (Romanian Jew) and Joe DiMaggio (Italy), has inspired generations of immigrants to pursue their own American dream and built a long lasting relationship between MLB and this country’s newest arrivals. But on the streets of Arizona, these heroes would be subject to unreasonable search and seizure.
Many of these athletes, like Hank Greenberg and Hank Aaron during their pursuits of Babe Ruth’s home run record in vastly different eras, were subject to racist abuse from fans and even other players, abuse that MLB championed against and which you personally found abhorrent.…