Peter Ueberroth

Peter Ueberroth

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Peter Victor Ueberroth (ˈjuːbərɒθ; born September 2, 1937) is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 executive. He served as the sixth Commissioner of Major League Baseball
Commissioner of Baseball
The Commissioner of Baseball is the chief executive of Major League Baseball and its associated minor leagues. Under the direction of the Commissioner, the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball hires and maintains the sport's umpiring crews, and negotiates marketing, labor, and television contracts...

 from 1984
1984 in baseball
-Major League Baseball:*World Series: Detroit Tigers over San Diego Padres ; Alan Trammell, MVP*American League Championship Series MVP: Kirk Gibson*National League Championship Series MVP: Steve Garvey...

 to 1989
1989 in baseball
-Major League Baseball:*World Series: Oakland Athletics over San Francisco Giants ; Dave Stewart, MVP*American League Championship Series MVP: Rickey Henderson*National League Championship Series MVP: Will Clark...

. He was recently the chairman of the United States Olympic Committee
United States Olympic Committee
The United States Olympic Committee is a non-profit organization that serves as the National Olympic Committee and National Paralympic Committee for the United States and coordinates the relationship between the United States Anti-Doping Agency and the World Anti-Doping Agency and various...

; he was replaced by Larry Probst
Larry Probst
Lawrence F. "Larry" Probst III is the Chairman and former President and CEO of Electronic Arts . He was succeeded by John Riccitiello on April 2, 2007...

 in October 2008.

Early life


Although Ueberroth was born in Evanston, Illinois
Evanston, Illinois
Evanston is a suburban municipality in Cook County, Illinois 12 miles north of downtown Chicago, bordering Chicago to the south, Skokie to the west, and Wilmette to the north, with an estimated population of 74,360 as of 2003. It is one of the North Shore communities that adjoin Lake Michigan...

, he grew up in northern California
Northern California
Northern California is the northern portion of the U.S. state of California. The San Francisco Bay Area , and Sacramento as well as its metropolitan area are the main population centers...

. While attending Fremont High School
Fremont High School (Sunnyvale, California)
Fremont High School is a comprehensive, co-educational, public secondary school in Sunnyvale, California, United States. Fremont is currently the only open public high school located in the city of Sunnyvale and is part of the Fremont Union High School District .-History:Fremont was originally...

, Ueberroth excelled in football
American football
American football is a sport played between two teams of eleven with the objective of scoring points by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone. Known in the United States simply as football, it may also be referred to informally as gridiron football. The ball can be advanced by...

, baseball, and swimming. After graduating from high school, Ueberroth attended San Jose State University
San José State University
San Jose State University is a public university located in San Jose, California, United States...

 on an athletic scholarship
Athletic scholarship
An athletic scholarship is a form of scholarship to attend a college or university awarded to an individual based predominantly on his or her ability to play in a sport...

. While attending San Jose State he joined Delta Upsilon
Delta Upsilon
Delta Upsilon is the sixth oldest international, all-male, college Greek-letter organization, and is the oldest non-secret fraternity in North America...

. He competed in the 1956 United States Olympic
1956 Summer Olympics
The 1956 Melbourne Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XVI Olympiad, were an international multi-sport event which was held in Melbourne, Australia, in 1956, with the exception of the equestrian events, which could not be held in Australia due to quarantine regulations...

 water polo trials but failed to make the team. Ueberroth ultimately graduated from San Jose State in 1959 with a degree in business.

Trans International Airlines


After college, Ueberroth became a vice president and shareholder in Trans International Airlines
Trans International Airlines
Trans International Airlines was an airline which offered charter service from and within the United States. It offered scheduled service operating as Transamerica Airlines in its last decade...

 (he was 22 years old at the time). Ueberroth worked at Trans International until 1963, when he founded his own travel company, which would become First Travel Corporation. By the time he sold First Travel in 1980, it was the second largest travel business in North America.

The 1984 Olympics


For five years Ueberroth served as the organizer of the 1984 Summer Olympics
1984 Summer Olympics
The 1984 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXIII Olympiad, was an international multi-sport event held in Los Angeles, California, United States in 1984...

 held in Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

. He was a prominent figure in the games, receiving the Olympic Order
Olympic Order
The Olympic Order is the highest award of the Olympic Movement, created by the International Olympic Committee in May 1975 as a successor to the Olympic Certificate previously awarded. The Olympic Order originally had three grades , although the bronze grade was retired in 1984...

 in gold at its conclusion. Due to the success of the games, he was named Time magazine's Man of the Year
Person of the Year
Person of the Year is an annual issue of the United States newsmagazine Time that features and profiles a person, couple, group, idea, place, or machine that "for better or for worse, ...has done the most to influence the events of the year."- History :The tradition of selecting a Man of the Year...

 in 1984. Under Ueberroth's leadership and management, the first privately financed Olympic Games resulted in a surplus of nearly $
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

250 million. This was subsequently used to support youth and sports activities throughout the United States. Coincidentally, he was born on the day on which the founder of the modern Olympic Games
Olympic Games
The Olympic Games is a major international event featuring summer and winter sports, in which thousands of athletes participate in a variety of competitions. The Olympic Games have come to be regarded as the world’s foremost sports competition where more than 200 nations participate...

, Baron Pierre de Coubertin
Pierre de Coubertin
Pierre de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin was a French educationalist and historian, founder of the International Olympic Committee, and is considered the father of the modern Olympic Games...

, died.

Baseball commissioner


Ueberroth was elected to succeed Bowie Kuhn
Bowie Kuhn
Bowie Kent Kuhn was an American lawyer and sports administrator who served as the fifth Commissioner of Major League Baseball from February 4, , to September 30,...

 on March 3, 1984, and took office on October 1 of that year. As a condition of his hiring, Ueberroth increased the commissioner’s fining ability from $
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

5,000 to $250,000. His salary was raised to a reported $450,000, nearly twice what Kuhn was paid.

Just as Ueberroth was taking office the Major League Umpires Union was threatening to strike
Strike action
Strike action, also called labour strike, on strike, greve , or simply strike, is a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal of employees to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances. Strikes became important during the industrial revolution, when mass labour became...

 the postseason. Ueberroth managed to arbitrate the disagreement and had the umpires back to work before the League Championship Series
League Championship Series
The League Championship Series is the official name for a round of postseason play in Major League Baseball which has been conducted since 1969...

 were over. The next summer, Ueberroth worked behind the scenes to limit a players' strike to one day before a new labor agreement was worked out with the Players Association
Major League Baseball Players Association
The Major League Baseball Players Association is the union of professional major-league baseball players.-History of MLBPA:The MLBPA was not the first attempt to unionize baseball players...

.

During the course of his stint as commissioner, Ueberroth reinstated two Hall of Famers, Willie Mays
Willie Mays
Willie Howard Mays, Jr. is a retired American professional baseball player who played the majority of his major league career with the New York and San Francisco Giants before finishing with the New York Mets. Nicknamed The Say Hey Kid, Mays was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979, his...

 and Mickey Mantle
Mickey Mantle
Mickey Charles Mantle was an American professional baseball player. Mantle is regarded by many to be the greatest switch hitter of all time, and one of the greatest players in baseball history. Mantle was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974.Mantle was noted for his hitting...

, who had been banned from working for Major League Baseball by Kuhn because of their associations with gambling casinos. Also, Ueberroth suspended numerous players because of cocaine
Cocaine
Cocaine is a crystalline tropane alkaloid that is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant. The name comes from "coca" in addition to the alkaloid suffix -ine, forming cocaine. It is a stimulant of the central nervous system, an appetite suppressant, and a topical anesthetic...

 use, negotiated a $1.2 billion television contract with CBS
CBS
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

, and initiated the investigation against Pete Rose
Pete Rose
Peter Edward Rose , nicknamed "Charlie Hustle", is a former Major League Baseball player and manager. Rose played from 1963 to 1986, and managed from 1984 to 1989....

's betting habits
Dowd Report
The Dowd Report is the document describing the transgressions of baseball player Pete Rose in betting on baseball, which precipitated his agreement to a lifetime suspension from the sport in the United States. The 225-page report was prepared by Special Counsel to the Commissioner, John M. Dowd,...

. In 1985
1985 in baseball
-Major League Baseball:*World Series: Kansas City Royals over St. Louis Cardinals ; Bret Saberhagen, MVP*American League Championship Series MVP: George Brett*National League Championship Series MVP: Ozzie Smith...

, Ueberroth's first full year in office, the League Championship Series expanded from a best-of-five series to a best-of-seven series. At his urging, the Chicago Cubs
1988 Chicago Cubs season
The Chicago Cubs' 1988 season involved the Cubs finishing in fourth place in the National League East with a record of 77-85, 24 games behind the New York Mets...

 chose to install lights at Wrigley Field
Wrigley Field
Wrigley Field is a baseball stadium in Chicago, Illinois, United States that has served as the home ballpark of the Chicago Cubs since 1916. It was built in 1914 as Weeghman Park for the Chicago Federal League baseball team, the Chicago Whales...

 rather than reimburse the leagues for lost night-game revenues. Ueberroth then found a new source of income in the form of persuading large corporations to pay for the privilege of having their products endorsed by Major League Baseball.

However, Ueberroth, with the assistance of the owners, also facilitated collusion between the owners in violation of the league's collective bargaining agreement with the players. Players entering free agency in the 1985, 1986 and 1987 offseasons were, with few exceptions, prevented from both signing equitable contracts and joining the teams of their choice during this period. The roots of the collusion lay in Ueberroth's first owners' meeting as commissioner, when he called the owners "damned dumb" for being willing to lose money in order to win a World Series. Later, he told the general managers that it was "not smart" to sign long-term contracts. Former Major League Baseball Players Association
Major League Baseball Players Association
The Major League Baseball Players Association is the union of professional major-league baseball players.-History of MLBPA:The MLBPA was not the first attempt to unionize baseball players...

 president Marvin Miller
Marvin Miller
Marvin Julian Miller is a former executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association , from 1966 to 1982. Under Miller's direction, the players' union was transformed into one of the strongest unions in the United States...

 later described this as "tantamount to fixing, not just games, but entire pennant races, including all post-season series." The MLBPA, under Miller's successor, Don Fehr, filed collusion charges
Baseball collusion
Baseball collusion refers to owners working together to avoid competitive bidding for player services or players jointly negotiating with team owners....

 and won each case, resulting in "second look" free agents, and over $280 million in fines. Fay Vincent
Fay Vincent
Francis Thomas "Fay" Vincent, Jr. is a former entertainment lawyer and sports executive who served as the eighth Commissioner of Major League Baseball from September 13, 1989 to September 7, 1992.-Early life and career:...

, who followed Ueberroth's successor in the commissioner's office, laid the crippling labor problems of the early 1990s (including the 1994-95 strike) directly at the feet of Ueberroth and the owners' collusion, holding that the collusion years constituted theft from the players.

Under Ueberroth, Major League Baseball enjoyed increased attendance (record attendance four straight seasons), greater awareness of crowd control and alcohol management within ballparks, a successful and vigilant anti-drug campaign, significant industry-wide improvement in the area of fair employment, and a significantly improved financial picture for the industry. When Ueberroth took office, 21 of the 26 clubs were losing money; in Ueberroth's last full season - 1988
1988 in baseball
See also: 1988 Major League Baseball season-Major League Baseball:*World Series: Los Angeles Dodgers over Oakland Athletics ; Orel Hershiser, MVP*American League Championship Series MVP: Dennis Eckersley...

 - all clubs either broke even or finished in the black. In 1987
1987 in baseball
-Major League Baseball:*World Series: Minnesota Twins over St. Louis Cardinals ; Frank Viola, MVP**American League Championship Series: Gary Gaetti, MVP**National League Championship Series: Jeff Leonard, MVP...

, for example, baseball as an industry showed a net profit of $21.3 million, its first profitable year since 1973
1973 in baseball
-Major League Baseball:*World Series: Oakland Athletics over New York Mets ; Reggie Jackson, MVP*All-Star Game, July 24 at Royals Stadium: National League, 7–1; Bobby Bonds, MVP-Other champions:...

.

Nonetheless, following the announcement of the first of three large awards to the players following the collusion findings, Ueberroth stepped down as commissioner before the start of the 1989 regular season
1989 in baseball
-Major League Baseball:*World Series: Oakland Athletics over San Francisco Giants ; Dave Stewart, MVP*American League Championship Series MVP: Rickey Henderson*National League Championship Series MVP: Will Clark...

; his contract was to have run through the end of the season. He was succeeded by National League
National League
The National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, known simply as the National League , is the older of two leagues constituting Major League Baseball, and the world's oldest extant professional team sports league. Founded on February 2, 1876, to replace the National Association of Professional...

 president A. Bartlett Giamatti
A. Bartlett Giamatti
Angelo Bartlett "Bart" Giamatti was the president of Yale University and later the seventh Commissioner of Major League Baseball. Giamatti negotiated the agreement that terminated the Pete Rose betting scandal by permitting Rose to voluntarily withdraw from the sport, avoiding further...

.

Post-baseball activities


Three years after leaving office, he led the Rebuild Los Angeles project after the 1992 Los Angeles riots
1992 Los Angeles riots
The 1992 Los Angeles Riots or South Central Riots, also known as the 1992 Los Angeles Civil Unrest were sparked on April 29, 1992, when a jury acquitted three white and one hispanic Los Angeles Police Department officers accused in the videotaped beating of black motorist Rodney King following a...

.

In 1989, Ueberroth considered purchasing Eastern Air Lines
Eastern Air Lines
Eastern Air Lines was a major United States airline that existed from 1926 to 1991. Before its dissolution it was headquartered at Miami International Airport in unincorporated Miami-Dade County, Florida.-History:...

, then crippled by a strike and bankruptcy
Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy is a legal status of an insolvent person or an organisation, that is, one that cannot repay the debts owed to creditors. In most jurisdictions bankruptcy is imposed by a court order, often initiated by the debtor....

 from Texas Air
Texas Air
Texas Air was an airline holding company incorporated in 1980 in the United States created to hold and invest in airlines, starting with Texas International Airlines as its core...

. However, a management dispute with Texas Air CEO Frank Lorenzo
Frank Lorenzo
Francisco Anthony "Frank" Lorenzo is an American businessman and philanthropist. He is most famous for his leadership of Texas International Airlines and its successor holding company Texas Air Corporation between 1972 and 1990, through which he formed or acquired a number of major U.S...

 led to the deal falling through.

In 1999, Ueberroth, along with Arnold Palmer
Arnold Palmer
Arnold Daniel Palmer is an American professional golfer, who is generally regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of men's professional golf. He has won numerous events on both the PGA Tour and Champions Tour, dating back to 1955...

 and Clint Eastwood
Clint Eastwood
Clinton "Clint" Eastwood, Jr. is an American film actor, director, producer, composer and politician. Eastwood first came to prominence as a supporting cast member in the TV series Rawhide...

, bought the Pebble Beach
Pebble Beach, California
Pebble Beach is an unincorporated community in Monterey County, California. It lies at an elevation of 3 feet . Pebble Beach is a small coastal resort destination, home to the famous golf course, Pebble Beach Golf Links....

 golf course
Pebble Beach Golf Links
Pebble Beach Golf Links is a golf course located in Pebble Beach, California, on the west coast of the United States.Pebble Beach is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful courses in the world. It hugs the rugged coastline and has wide open views of Carmel Bay, opening to the Pacific Ocean,...

.

Ueberroth ran for Governor of California
Governor of California
The Governor of California is the chief executive of the California state government, whose responsibilities include making annual State of the State addresses to the California State Legislature, submitting the budget, and ensuring that state laws are enforced...

 in the 2003 California recall election as an independent, though he was a registered Republican. His campaign focused on California's economic and budget crisis, avoiding social issues. With polls indicating only a low level of support, he pulled out of the race on September 9, 2003, though his name still appeared on the ballot and received a small but significant number of votes. He placed 6th in a field of 135 candidates.

Ueberroth has been a director of The Coca-Cola Company
The Coca-Cola Company
The Coca-Cola Company is an American multinational beverage corporation and manufacturer, retailer and marketer of non-alcoholic beverage concentrates and syrups. The company is best known for its flagship product Coca-Cola, invented in 1886 by pharmacist John Stith Pemberton in Columbus, Georgia...

 since 1986. Mr. Ueberroth is an investor and chairman of the Contrarian Group, Inc., a business management company, and has held this position since 1989. He is also co-chairman of Pebble Beach Company. He is a director of Hilton Hotels
Hilton Hotels
Hilton Hotels & Resorts is an international chain of full-service hotels and resorts founded by Conrad Hilton and now owned by Hilton Worldwide. Hilton hotels are either owned by, managed by, or franchised to independent operators by Hilton Worldwide. Hilton Hotels became the first coast-to-coast...

 Corporation and Adecco S.A.

Ueberroth was chairman of Ambassadors International, Inc. but was replaced by his son, Joseph Ueberroth in April 2006. Ueberroth resigned from the board in November 2008.

Ueberroth was also the chairman of the United States Olympic Committee
United States Olympic Committee
The United States Olympic Committee is a non-profit organization that serves as the National Olympic Committee and National Paralympic Committee for the United States and coordinates the relationship between the United States Anti-Doping Agency and the World Anti-Doping Agency and various...

 Board of Directors.

Ueberroth is a Life Trustee
Trustee
Trustee is a legal term which, in its broadest sense, can refer to any person who holds property, authority, or a position of trust or responsibility for the benefit of another...

 of the University of Southern California
University of Southern California
The University of Southern California is a private, not-for-profit, nonsectarian, research university located in Los Angeles, California, United States. USC was founded in 1880, making it California's oldest private research university...

.

Ueberroth and his wife, Ginny, were two of the founders of Sage Hill School
Sage Hill School
Sage Hill School is a private independent co-educational college preparatory school for day students in grades 9-12. The school was founded in 1999, the first year it filed a Form 990 with the IRS. According to its 2000 Private School Affidavit filed with the state of California, it opened in...

. He additionally served briefly on the school’s Athletic Advisory Council.

In the middle of an Ueberroth speech at Claremont McKenna College
Claremont McKenna College
Claremont McKenna College is a private, coeducational liberal arts college and a member of the Claremont Colleges located in Claremont, California. The campus is located east of Downtown Los Angeles...

 in California, the college president accidentally tumbled off the back of the platform. As the fallen academic scrambled back to his seat, Ueberroth quickly flipped over his speech, scrawled "4.5" in big numbers on the back and flashed it to the audience.

Further reading

  • New York Magazine, "Hardball: Nancy Collins Quizzes Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth", June 9, 1986, pp. 52–57+61.

External links