The Mariners have new owners
Nintendo of America has bought out the shares of former President Hiroshi Yamauchi. Japan Today has a story. If the stories out so far are correct, he sold his remaining shares for $67m sometime in August, putting Nintendo’s direct share over 50%.
Now, without details of past transactions, we can’t know what he’d sold of his majority ownership interest before that, and for how much. Given the restructuring of the ownership group since 1992, the current valuation of the franchise, and so on, we can be reasonably sure that he’s not selling 51% of the club for $67m — this is the last chunk that puts NoA in control.
This is an interesting development. Yamauchi (as you can read in Art Thiel’s book) rarely took an active role in franchise affairs, only once in a while intervening when Japanese players were involved. He left the management of his team to Ellis and then Lincoln, and we’ve seen their management of the team. It’s unlikely that Nintendo would attempt to depose the team’s leadership soon, but as a Redmond company they’re far, far more likely to pay more attention to what their massive investment in the team is doing than Yamauchi did, and that could be good if their interests coincide with ours, and it could be bad, if they want to look at it as a pure investment.
Also, there will probably be more sightings of Mario and Yoshi around the park next year.
Thank you, Mr. Yamauchi. You don’t get enough credit for your contribution to Seattle baseball. They far outweigh anything anyone else has achieved here. I’m glad you were willing to be the better man and ignore baseball’s insult in taking your money without letting you run the team when you were the largest part of the group that purchased the team in 1992. I’m happy that your management of the franchise eventually convinced baseball to remove their small-minded objections to ownership of teams by those who aren’t Americans, or Canadians, or companies from one of those two countries.
And particularly, I thank you for having the foresight to see that Ichiro would be a star here, and for having the courage to force the issue. Everyone in Seattle should appreciate that we would not be inspired every game by his great play were it not for your investment to bring him to the Mariners.