Gene Budig is a former commissioner of the American League (1994-2000). He was also the Chancellor of the University of Kansas back in my hazy undergraduate days. Now he’s semi-retired, acting as part-owner of the Charleston RiverDogs in South Carolina.
The very accomplished gentleman used his clout to get a sit-down with Bud Selig, where he was able to pry loose some very vague generalities about the future of Minor League baseball, which he wrote up for my old home-town newspaper:
As a co-owner of the Charleston RiverDogs, a Class A farm team aligned with the New York Yankees in the South Atlantic League, I want to emphasize that minor-league baseball continues to grow significant interest in the game. It is, and will continue to be, one of MLB’s most important, long-term partners.
Minor-league baseball is the game of choice for families, for those who live on limited incomes and tight budgets. Teams like ours in South Carolina cater to youngsters and their parents, teenagers, senior citizens and men and women in the service of their country.
Minor-league baseball offers family entertainment at bargain prices. A family of four can enjoy a game, complete with ballpark food, for about $50.
Communities with the greatest drawing power have new or recently renovated ballparks, ones where seating, concessions and rest rooms are near the field, and where the lights are bright and security is in evidence.
“Minor-league baseball is here to stay,” Selig has said, and I further believe it will continue to be attractive and profitable with vigilant owners who love and respect the game and its continued importance.”
Bracing stuff. But that’s Selig for you.
I like to see that Gene Budig has kept his love of baseball alive by providing a quality product for the people of South Carolina. If fate and fortune one day smile upon me, I could think of about a million worse things to do with my money than owning a minor league baseball franchise in some bucolic little corner of the U.S.
Heck, maybe even in Lawrence…