Selig praises O'Neil, state of game

Updated: October 7, 2006, 10:41 PM ET
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Commissioner Bud Selig lamented the death of Buck O'Neil on Saturday, calling the former Negro Leagues star an extraordinary human being.

O'Neil died Friday night at Research Medical Center in Kansas City from complications of congestive heart failure and recently diagnosed bone marrow cancer, said Bob Kendrick, marketing director for the Negro Leagues museum. O'Neil was 94.

"Talk about people -- you want to measure people's careers, what he did for the sport," Selig said moments before the Mets and Dodgers played Game 3 of their NL division series. "His career was amazing."

Asked if he'd thought about O'Neil not being in the Hall of Fame, Selig replied: "You bet. I haven't gotten that out of my mind today."

While Selig spoke, he couldn't help watching the Detroit Tigers' celebrating on a nearby television after they'd eliminated the New York Yankees from the AL playoffs.

"Three years ago they lost 119 games," Selig said of the Tigers. "It's really an amazing story. It goes to prove the only predictable thing about this sport is its unpredictability. Amazing."

Selig said the Dodgers, an organization in chaos a year ago after finishing its second-worst season since moving from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958, should be acknowledged for their turnaround.

"The Dodgers have a very strong organization, very competitive," he said. "Of all the things I have to worry about today, the Dodgers aren't one of them."

Selig said the Dodgers were among the candidates to host an All-Star game in the coming years.

The commissioner declined comment when asked about negotiations between the players and management.

"Quiet is good," he said. I think you can read anything into that. Compared to the history of the last 35 years, I would say this is beyond peaceful."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press