Hiroshi Yamauchi, who ran Nintendo for more than 50 years and was majority owner of the Mariners, has died. He was 85.
Kyoto-based Nintendo said Yamauchi died Sept. 19 of pneumonia at a hospital in central Japan.
Yamauchi was Nintendo president from 1949 to 2002, and engineered the company’s global growth, including developing the early Family Computer consoles and Game Boy portables.
Yamauchi’s raspy voice and tendency to speak informally in his native Kyoto dialect was a kind of disarming spontaneity rare among Japanese executives.
Yamauchi had little interest in baseball, but was approached to buy the Mariners, who may have had to move out of Washington state where Nintendo of America Inc. was headquartered without a new backer. The acquisition in 1992 made the Seattle club the first in the major leagues to have foreign ownership.
Yamauchi never watched his baseball team play in person and transferred his majority shares to Nintendo of America in 2004. (end)