Unlike several other commissioners, Peter Ueberroth had an extensive background in both professional and international sports. After lettering in football, baseball and swimming, he was accepted to San Jose State University on an athletic scholarship and lettered in water polo. In 1956, he tried out for the United States Olympic team but was unable to make the cut. Disappointed, he returned to school and completed his education in 1959 with a degree in business. Following his graduation, Ueberroth went on to the travel industry and eventually became a vice president and shareholder in Trans International Airlines at the tender age of twenty-two. He continued to excel at Trans International until 1963 when he founded his own travel company, First Travel Corporation that he later sold in 1980 when it was the second largest travel business in North America.
Always an athlete at heart, Ueberroth went on to serve as President and Chief Eexecutive Officer of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee responsible for staging and operating the 1984 Games. A tremendously successful planner, his management led to a post-event surplus of nearly $250 million, which was used to support national youth sports activities.
In 1984, during a huge Major League Baseball labor conflict (in which the Umpires Union threatened to strike the post-season) Ueberroth was elected commissioner by a unanimous vote of the twenty-six club owners. Immediately after taking office, he was able to arbitrate the disagreement and had the umpires back to work before the League Championship Series had ended. He was also able to act behind the scenes to limit a players' strike to one day before a new labor agreement was worked out with the Players Association.
Before leaving office, Ueberroth was able to compile an amazing legacy in which he was able to establish greater awareness of crowd control and alcohol management within ballparks, a successful and vigilant anti-drug campaign, an ever-increasing attendance record and Major League Baseball's first profitable year since 1973. His last task was the negotiation and agreement of a whopping four-year, $1.1 billion contract with CBS, and a four-year $400 million national cable deal with ESPN. Deciding not to seek a second term, Ueberroth helped promote the election of his replacement, A. Bartlett Giamatti.