Hiroshi Yamauchi, the majority owner of the Mariners, has passed away at age 85, according to Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times. Yamauchi, who made his fortune as the president of Nintendo, bought the Mariners in 1992 as the city of Seattle was in danger of losing the team to relocation (St. Petersburg, Fla. was the likely destination).
Yamauchi and his investors purchased the Mariners for $120MM in 1992, but the team's recent acquisition of a controlling stake in the ROOT Sports Regional network could push the team's value north of $1 billion, according to Baker. Yamauchi transferred control of his majority shares to Nintendo of America in 2004, though Mariners officials insist that all major decisions were first cleared with Yamauchi, Baker writes.
Chris Larson is the largest minority holder with a 30.6 percent share, according to Baker, though billionaire and 10 percent stakeholder John Stanton could be the most financially capable successor. Minority investor Buck Ferguson offered the following statement: “Mr. Yamauchi deserves unending thanks for his key role in saving baseball in Seattle.”
MLBTR would like to offer our condolences to Yamauchi's family and friends, as well as the Mariners organization for the loss.