Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig will retire at the end of his current term in January 2015, the league said on Thursday.
Selig, 79, has led MLB since 1992 when, as chairman of the league's executive council, he became interim commissioner. He was unanimously elected MLB's ninth commissioner in mid-1998.
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"It remains my great privilege to serve the game I have loved throughout my life," Selig said in a statement. "Baseball is the greatest game ever invented, and I look forward to continuing its extraordinary growth and addressing several significant issues during the remainder of my term.
"I am grateful to the owners throughout Major League Baseball for their unwavering support and for allowing me to lead this great institution. I thank our players, who give me unlimited enthusiasm about the future of our game. Together we have taken this sport to new heights and have positioned our national pastime to thrive for generations to come. Most of all, I would like to thank our fans, who are the heart and soul of our game."
He will announce shortly a transition plan in preparation for his retirement, the league said in a statement.
Selig presided over much of the controversial "steroid era" in MLB and was called before Congress to answer for the epidemic. But the league has instituted tougher penalties for performance-enhancing drugs over the past decade.
He also oversaw the addition of interleague play in 1997 and the addition of the wild-card round in 1995 and expansion to two wild-card teams last season.
Selig is the second major American sports commissioner to announce he is leaving recently. NBA Commissioner David Stern also announced his retirement this season. He said he will step down in February 2014.