Sports & Recreation

Sometimes a bat is just a bat

A bronze ballplayer swings for the fences in Bud Selig’s collection of baseball-themed art and memorabilia.

While I was sitting in the outer office at Allan H. “Bud” Selig ’56’s Milwaukee headquarters, waiting to speak to the man himself, I came to a conclusion: this would easily be the best bedroom a nine-year-old boy could design.

Selig is the ninth commissioner of Major League Baseball, and his office takes up much of the thirtieth floor of the U.S. Bank building. The view includes the shore of Lake Michigan and southern Milwaukee, but my hypothetical nine-year-old wouldn’t notice the windows. His attention would be focused on the walls, floors, and tables, which are crammed with photos, mementos, and memorabilia from a lifetime spent deep in a baseball obsession.

On one wall is a Louisville Slugger bat with Selig’s signature burned into the barrel. In Plexiglass cases are bases from All-Star games, still bearing the dirt deposited when the leagues’ best players trod upon them. The floor is covered with a carpet decorated in a ball-and-bat motif, though the center of the room features a circular area rug designed to look like an enormous baseball. Shelves on two walls display thirty baseballs, each with the logo of a different team. Framed photos show Henry Aaron, Joe DiMaggio, and other legends, and against one wall stands a bench constructed from bats and balls, with bases for cushions. (While striking in appearance, this did not, however, look like an inviting place to sit.)

This, I thought, is the office of a boy who never grew up, a person who daily lives out his childhood dream.

When I finally sat down with Selig, one of the first questions I asked was about the outer office. Did one or another of the items hold special meaning for him?

“H’m?” he asked. “Oh, I don’t know — you’d have to ask the person who designed it.”

I guess sometimes a bat is just a bat.

Published in the Spring 2011 issue


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