MILWAUKEE -- Major League Baseball Commissioner Allan H. "Bud" Selig made a major gift to the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Friday, establishing a chair in the history department that will focus on the relationship between sports and society.It was a fitting gift from Selig, who graduated from UW-Madison in 1956 with bachelor's degrees in history and political science and aspired to become a history professor. Instead, he went on to become owner of the Milwaukee Brewers and then the ninth Commissioner of Major League Baseball. He anticipates being involved with his alma mater as part of the program. "We're beginning to collect all of my papers, and I'm going to work with the history department and the historical society with the cataloguing," Selig said. "I plan to be [involved]. This is the beginning." UW-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin said the university has yet to select the professor who would fill the Allan H. Selig Chair in History. The scholar will teach, research and publish about the development of professional sports since 1900 in the larger social context, including race, gender, labor relations and economics. Selig offered the example of Jackie Robinson, who on April 15, 1947, broke baseball's color barrier. "He was clearly one of the most influential Americans of the 20th century," Selig said. "Well, I hope more research can be done on things like that, because there has been so much that baseball and other sports have [contributed] to society from 1900 on." In addition to Selig's gift, UW-Madison announced two other scholarship gifts made in Selig's honor: Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio partnered with A's owner and managing partner Lew Wolff and Red Sox co-owner Tom Werner to endow the Suzanne and Allan H. "Bud" Selig Great People Scholarship. Wolf, who graduated from UW-Madison in 1957, was a fraternity brother of Selig's -- along with U.S. Sen. and Milwaukee Bucks owner Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and two members of the Brewers' ownership group, Steve Marcus and Sheldon Lubar. Werner's daughter, Amanda, earned her bachelor's degree from UW-Madison this year. His son, Teddy, is the Brewers' chief negotiator. "This gift both honors the essential role the university played in Bud Selig's life and will give many other students the opportunity of a UW-Madison education," Werner said.
The first recipient of the scholarship is Maha Baalbaki of Milwaukee, a junior majoring in sociology and a first-generation college student. Hall of Famer Hank Aaron and his wife, Billye, established a "4 for 4" scholarship in Selig's honor through the Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Foundation. The foundation will ultimately fund 12 such scholarships -- named for the 12 times Aaron went 4-for-4 in his playing career -- at colleges and universities around the U.S. The first recipient at UW-Madison is Marisa Aronson of Milwaukee, an incoming freshman. "I am very excited to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison this fall," Aronson says. "I am currently undecided about my major but am interested in international studies. I am extremely thankful to be a recipient of this scholarship. It will definitely relieve some of the financial burden my family and I will experience in the coming years."
Friday's announcements capped a busy week for Selig, who was honored Tuesday with a statue outside Miller Park. The monument was a gift of Attanasio and his wife, Debbie."I'm very, very proud to be here tonight," Mark Attanasio said. "I'd say that this is right there with when it first was announced that I bought the team and the day we made the playoffs [in 2008]. Those two events, and this week's events, are my proudest moments in six years with the Milwaukee Brewers."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.