DOUG HAMILTON: 1963-2006
Doug Hamilton, who joined the Los Angeles Galaxy as president and general manager in 2002, won three straight Executive of the Year awards and two MLS Cup championships. Most fans will remember his decision to fire Sigi Schmid, coach of the first title winning team in 2002, in favour of Steve Sampson, widely regarded as a failure as coach of both the US and Costa Rica.
But a year and a half later, coach Sampson got the last laugh, winning an MLS Cup of his own. Clearly Doug knew something we didn't.
Knowing something others don't is part of the job description of any professional, particularly one who is trying to establish a tradition of success in a league built specifically for parity. The Galaxy are the only MLS club that have never missed the playoffs; they, like DC United, have played in half of the MLS Cup final matches played to date.
Doug enjoyed football tremendously, but it was difficult to tell during matches, as he had so much to do that he didn't seem to have an opportunity to sit down and enjoy the Galaxy's matches. But witness Andrea Canales's story about him leaving the office one night – only to stop on the way to watch the US team scrimmage. Football was in Doug's blood.
Ultimately, though, his teams' success is indisputable. During his two years as the general manager of the Miami Fusion, the team moved from the lower half of the league to the 2001 MLS Supporters' Shield, as the regular season champions. The team folded ahead of the 2002 season, and the Galaxy quickly hired Doug. His new club won him another Supporters' Shield in that first year, on their way to the MLS Cup title.
And during the 2005 season, the Galaxy won all five matches against Chivas USA – four in league play and a fifth in the US Open Cup. Doug made a friendly wager with his Chivas counterpart, Antonio Cué, ahead of each match. His winnings included a free car wash and the sight of Antonio's hair tinted Galaxy green.
PETER TOMARKEN: 1942-2006
Peter Tomarken is best known as the host of Press Your Luck, a popular 1983-6 game show that has aired almost continuously in reruns since then. Millions of people grew up watching the programme, to the extent that a great number of Americans under the age of 35 will recognise the phrase "Big bucks, and no Whammies... stop!".
In addition to the Whammies, Press Your Luck is also known for Michael Larson, an ice cream truck driver from Ohio who painstakingly reviewed taped episodes to discover that the flashing light on the board moved in a series of predefined patterns: all he had to do was stop on spaces four or eight, which always contained money plus a spin in the second round – never Whammies. As video games were just becoming popular, such reflexes were not common.
As Michael accumulated more and more money, Peter became more and more incredulous: "Go again?! What a hunk of money to ride!" Michael's turn at the board lasted so long that the game had to be split into two episodes; the programme began on FRI 08 JUN 1984 and concluded on MON 11 JUN 1984.
After some forty consecutive spins, Michael finally passed his four remaining spins when he reached a total of US$102,851. The scoreboard didn't even have room for a dollar sign in front of his total. With Michael passing, Ed Long gained control: as Peter put it, "If Michael can do it, you can do it, Ed! Hit the board! $4,080 – what the heck, you've only got $92,000 to go!" Sure enough, Ed hit a Whammy on his first spin of the round. Peter replied, "Michael, did you know that was coming?"
Michael ended up with a total of US$110,237. He was not the only memorable contestant on Press Your Luck; Karen screamed, "My husband wants that pool table! Come on, pool table!" She stopped on the pool table, as Peter laughed and said, "You got it! You got it!"
Both of these stars died on airplanes. Doug Hamilton suffered a heart attack on THU 09 MAR 2006 shortly after takeoff from San José, Costa Rica, where the Galaxy had lost a CONCACAF Champions Cup match against Deportivo Saprissa the day before. The pilot turned back to San José, but efforts to revive Doug failed.
Peter Tomarken was taking off from Santa Monica, CA, USA in his Beechcraft Bonanza A36 on the morning of MON 13 MAR 2006, flying to San Diego to pick up a patient who needed to be treated at UCLA Medical Center. The plane turned back toward Santa Monica Airport when engine trouble appeared; it crashed off the Santa Monica coast, and Peter and his wife, Kathleen, both died.
There's one more thing to say to Doug Hamilton: We love you Dougie, we do! We love you Dougie, we do! We love you Dougie, we do! Oh Dougie, we love you!
And there's one more thing to say to Peter Tomarken: Peter, thanks [salute] for pressing your luck.
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