Mariners Owner Hiroshi Yamauchi Passes Away
Sad news — regardless of what your feelings about the current state of the organization is — out of Japan this morning, as the Mariners principal owner, Hiroshi Yamauchi, has passed away at the age of 85. Yamauchi is best known for buying the Mariners in 1992, a last second deal to prevent the team from moving to Tampa, and more recently, for never having attended one of the team’s games, even last year’s season opener in Tokyo. For the 21 years that he owned the franchise (either directly or more recently through Nintendo, a transfer that was done for estate planning reasons), he held an extremely low profile, only granting a single interview in his entire ownership, which aggravated portions of the media and fan base that were used to more hands on, outwardly public ownership groups.
While popular opinion about the Mariners ownership right now is quite low, the simple fact is that Yamauchi invested a large portion of his own money into an entity he had to be convinced to purchase, and without his willingness to buy the team in 1992, there’s a decent chance that most of the last 20 years don’t happen. It’s easy to focus on the negative when the last decade has been so fruitless, but Seattle has a baseball team in large part due to Hiroshi Yamauchi.
We can save the speculation for what this means in terms of ownership transfers — long rumored, even before today’s news — or the continuing employment of the current executives for another day. Today, I’ll simply thank Mr. Yamauchi for his part in keeping the Mariners in Seattle. Rest in peace, sir.