Ueberroth was Commissioner of Baseball from after the 1984 season until before the 1989 season. The millionaire California travel agent became a public figure for his leadership in organizing the 1984 Olympics, which turned a $215 million-dollar profit by exploiting corporate sponsorships and media contracts. As Commissioner of Baseball, he successfully increased owners’ revenues through his television contract negotiations and marketing schemes that encouraged big-dollar promotional support from large corporations. The blot on Ueberroth’s tenure was the owners’ proven collusion against free agency by players. This highly visible restraint of trade left the owners with substantial contingent liabilities which survived Ueberroth’s departure. Until final damages are awarded, the profit picture for his reign is incomplete.
Commissioner Ueberroth came down heavily on players who used cocaine, largely on the grounds that they were being poor role models. Several big names, including Dwight Gooden and Lonnie Smith, served drug-related suspensions while Ueberroth was in office. In 1989, Ueberroth turned over the Commissioner’s reins to former NL president A. Bartlett Giamatti.