In case Stephen Hamilton was wondering if his brother Doug was still on the mind of the soccer community, both in Major League Soccer and beyond, he found the answer Saturday afternoon in a bevy of prized autographed merchandise inside of a tent at Raritan High School.
On little notice, every Major League Soccer team contributed valuable collectibles from a signed D.C. United jersey, a signed Pablo Mastroeni jersey and even a David Beckham-signed kit to be used in a silent auction at the second annual Doug Hamilton Classic.
"It's been great," said Stephen Hamilton, a vice president for Chivas USA who flew back home for Saturday's fund-raiser. "Every team is represented here. It was late notice asking, but they've all come through."
And it wasn't just autographed jerseys. There were tickets for the U.S.-Argentina match and the Red Bulls-Galaxy match at Giants Stadium, as well as tickets for the D.C. United match at RFK Stadium against the Galaxy and even tickets for the Rose Bowl and a New York Jets game next season.
A Roberto Carlos-signed Brazil jersey and an autographed Pele soccer ball were also among the items being auctioned off with the funds being raised for Doug Hamilton's son, Aedan, who is now seven years old.
"Doug was fortunate to have a lot of friends in the industry, from his time with adidas to his time as a college coach," Stephen Hamilton said. "He's built up a lot of relationships and there's been a lot of people who are willing to help out."
Ray Reid is among those people. When he found out that Rutgers coach Bob Reasso was organizing an annual game back at Hamilton's high school, the University of Connecticut head coach was among the first to sign his team up.
"It's for a good cause. We'll try and help his family any way we can," said Reid, who had a 10-15 year working relationship with Hamilton. "He was a great pioneer, he did a great job with adidas. He's touched the game on a lot of different levels. It was a tragic loss, much too early."
On March 9, 2006, Hamilton died of heart complications on a flight home from Costa Rica. The Los Angeles Galaxy president and general manager was just 43. Last year, Rutgers defeated St. John's 4-1 in the first annual game, which raised more than $10,000 for Hamilton's son, Aedan.
On Saturday, Reid's Huskies beat the Scarlet Knights 3-0 at Raritan H.S.
"It's a good game, but beyond that it's just good to come out and show support, show we respect what he's done in the past and we just want to support him, wish the best for his family and hope the kids have a good day," said UConn star O'Brian White, who won the M.A.C. Hermann Trophy as the country's best college player.
The threat of inclement weather resulted in a crowd about half the size of last year's inaugural event. But it didn't damper the spirits of those who came out to remember Hamilton the former high school teammate rather than the brilliant soccer executive who was three times named the MLS Executive of the Year. Now the award is named in his honor.
"This is great," said Anthony Chiappone, a lifelong Hazlet resident who went to high school with Doug Hamilton. "Last year I worked (the event) and this year I said 'I'm not working it, this year I want to watch. I want to see everything happen.'"
Chiappone, who is also a coach for the Hazlet Youth Soccer Association, was watching his youngest son participate in a youth soccer clinic with member of the Rutgers team. He watched with fellow Hazlet United coach Tony Pruscino, another Raritan High grad who was close to the Hamilton family.
"Great family, Doug was a great guy from what I remember," he said. "I know he loved the game of soccer. It's a nice event, a real nice event."
Unable to get time off from a new nursing job, Doug's widow, Paige and son, Aedan, couldn't attend, but Doug's mother and sister did make the trip from Florida for what will be an annual event.
"It's a celebration," Stephen said. "I think he would be proud of that, to be able to bring people together."
Dylan Butler is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.