NEW YORK — Bud Selig said Thursday he plans to retire as baseball commissioner in January 2015 after a term of more than 22 years marked by robust growth in attendance and revenue along with a canceled World Series and a drug scandal.
The 79-year-old Selig said in 2003 that he would retire in 2006 but has repeatedly accepted new contracts.
Some owners — even his wife — have been skeptical in the past that he really would do it, but this marked the first time he issued a formal statement that he intends to step down from the sport's top job.
"I look forward to continuing its extraordinary growth and addressing several significant issues during the remainder of my term," he said.
Selig said he will soon announce a transition plan that will include a reorganization of central baseball management.
He said he will leave on Jan. 24, 2015, which would mark the second-longest term for a baseball commissioner behind Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who served from November 1920 to November 1944.
Selig's tenure included splitting each league into three divisions instead of two, adding wild cards and additional rounds of playoffs, expansion to Arizona and Tampa Bay, instituting instant replay, starting the World Baseball Classic, launching the Major League Baseball Network and centralizing the sport's digital rights under MLB.com.
"The game has grown under him tremendously. He's made every effort to try to clean the game up," New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He's left his mark on the game. There's no doubt about it."