Hiroshi Yamauchi, the majority owner of the Seattle Mariners and former leader of Nintendo Corp., has died in Japan at the age of 85.
According to a report from the Seattle Times’ Geoff Baker, Yamauchi owned 55% of the Seattle Mariners franchise, and saved the team from being sold to a group looking to move the team to St. Petersburg, Florida back in 1992.
“Mr. Yamauchi deserves unending thanks for his key role in saving baseball in Seattle,” Mariners minority investor Buck Ferguson said this morning according to the Seattle Times report.
While Yamauchi transferred control of the ball club to Nintendo’s U.S. division back in 2004, according to the report he still maintained control of the team – all important decisions had to be run by him first, in effect meaning he never really left.
Living in the Northwest for a large portion of my life, a common grumble among Mariners fans was Yamauchi’s absentee approach to running the team. He never attended a game, even once famously not attending a game the Mariners played in Tokyo – with Japanese national hero Ichiro still with the team no less.
But, he did save baseball in Seattle, and that should not be forgotten. During his tenure, Safeco Field was built and remains as one of the most beautiful venues in all of baseball.
Chris Larson owns the largest percentage of the team at this point at 30.6 percent – but expect some major changes in the coming months around the Mariners organization.