It is perhaps no coincidence that Peter V. Ueberroth was born on September 2, 1937, the same date that the founder of the modern Olympic Games, Pierre Baron de Coubertin passed away – for many credit Peter with saving the Olympic movement from the financial calamities of the 1970’s and the boycotts of the 1980’s.
Peter was born in Evanston, Illinois, but grew up in Sunnyvale, California, where he excelled in high school as an athlete, participating in football, baseball and swimming. Although he had never seen a game of water polo before attending college, he was recruited by Ed Rudloff to play at San Jose State University. He quickly fell in love with the game, became a star player and caught the spark of the Olympic Games when he participated in the 1956 Water Polo Olympic Trials.
After graduating with a business degree in 1959, he moved to Hawaii and at the age of 22, became a shareholder and Vice President of Trans International Airline. In 1963, he founded his first company, the First Travel Corporation, which by 1978 had 1,500 employees in 200 offices worldwide and was the second largest travel company in North America.
In 1979, when the Los Angeles Committee for the Olympic Games was looking for a person to take charge of the Games, a “head-hunting” firm suggested Peter Ueberroth. At first he declined, but pressed a second time changed his mind and the rest is history.
Under Ueberroth’s leadership and management, the first privately financed Olympic Games became the genesis for the current International and US Olympic sponsorship programs and recorded a surplus of nearly $240 million dollars. The unprecedented profits were used by Peter to endow the U.S. Olympic Committee, the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles and each of the national governing bodies. For the operational, political and financial success of the Games, he was named 1984 Man of the Year by Time Magazine.
For the next five years he served as the Commissioner of Major League Baseball. When he began this assignment, 22 of the League’s teams were losing money. At the end of his term, all of the baseball teams were profitable.
With a proven track record of taking on a crisis and turning it into success, Peter was appointed by Mayor Tom Bradley and Governor Pete Wilson to lead the Rebuild LA Project in the aftermath of the 1992 Los Angeles riots.
In 2004, the Olympic movement called him back, to serve as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the United States Olympic Committee. Beset by financial mismanagement, poor international relations, ethics scandals and revolving door leadership, Peter restored financial accountability, credibility and respect to the USOC during his four-year term.
In addition to these examples of crisis management success stories, Peter currently leads successful ventures through his company the Contrarian Group which included the purchase of the Pebble Beach Company, bringing it back to U.S. ownership.
Peter and his wife, Ginny, have four children and eight grandchildren. They live in Laguna Beach.
Recipients of the Gold Medallion Award.