Rob Manfred, the long-standing commissioner of North America’s Major League Baseball (MLB), has announced he will retire when his current term ends in January 2029.

Speaking at a spring training news conference, Manfred confirmed the move. He will be 70 years old and will have been commissioner for 14 years by the end of the current term.

He said: “You can only have so much fun in one lifetime. I have been open with them (the owners) about the fact that this is going to be my last term.

“I said it to them before the election in July and I’m absolutely committed to that.”

Manfred has been commissioner of the 30-team MLB since January 2015 after taking over from Bud Selig, who spent 18 years in the role. He has served two five-year terms and the team owners voted to grant him a third term in July.

Before that, he was MLB’s chief operating officer under Selig and spearheaded labor relations and collective bargaining agreements with the MLB Players Association (MLBPA).

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Manfred said that candidates for a successor will emerge in the coming years, adding: “I’m sure the selection process is going to look like it looked the last time.

“There’ll be a committee of owners that’ll be put together, and they’ll identify candidates, an interview process, and ultimately someone or a slate of people will be put forward.”

Under Manfred’s tenure, MLB has undergone enormous change in an attempt to attract a younger audience after various data references placed the average age of domestic baseball fans in their mid-to-late 50s. 

To combat critics that label games as being too long, slow, and boring, MLB made drastic changes such as expanding base sizes and banning shifts to increase hits and runners-on, and implementing pitch clocks and limits to how many times pitchers can attempt pick-offs – all to speed up the game.

The implementation of such measures has seen a 10% increase in attendance, and in 2022, Manfred oversaw expansion of the post-season playoff expansion to 12 teams.

However, his reign has not been without controversy. Manfred was widely criticized over his handling of the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal, where he gave players blanket immunity in exchange for their testimony.

He later admitted during an interview with Time magazine that it was “maybe not my best decision ever.”

Manfred also presided over the lockout of players in 2021-22, which could have turned into a major work stoppage during negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement.

The league and the MLBPA eventually struck a deal on a five-year agreement that will expire after the 2026 season, and which will have to be renegotiated during Manfred’s final term.

He told reporters yesterday he hopes to have a process “in place” for the league to expand to 32 teams before he leaves.