Former Nintendo president, Seattle Mariners owner Hiroshi Yamauchi dies at 85

Hiroshi Yamauchi

Hiroshi Yamachui. Photo via MyNorthwest.com.

The man who helped Nintendo become an international gaming powerhouse passed away Thursday of pneumonia at 85 years old.

Hiroshi Yamachui became president at Nintendo in 1949 and went on to lead Nintendo for 53 years, managing the transformation from a playing card company to video game giant. Yamachu oversaw the release of several successful products like the NES, Game Boy and N64, while hiring all-stars like legendary designer Shigeru Miyamoto and current president Satoru Iwata.

Yamachui was also the owner of MLB’s Seattle Mariners since 1992, when he became the first non-North American to own a professional baseball team and saved the Mariners from moving to Tampa, Fla. He attracted Japanese stars like Ichiro Suzuki and Kazuhiro Sasaki to Seattle, as the Mariners became extremely popular in Japan.

At the time of his death, Yamachui was Nintendo’s second-largest shareholder. He is survived by his wife and three children.

  • http://www.christopherbudd.com Christopher Budd

    I’m not a baseball fan by any stretch. But I was here in 92 when the Marines almost left and remember what a big deal what he did was.

    You have to remember this was still close in time to the 1980s and the “Japan, Inc.” era, so the idea of a US Baseball team being owned by someone from Japan was a big deal and there was a lot of resistance to it (some of it ugly).

    It was one of those things that showed Seattle at its best, leading the way in new directions. And for those who care about baseball here, it kept the Mariners here and prevented the sort of thing that happened with the Sonics eventually.

    I hope the city and Mariners fans pay appropriate tribute to him for what he did for this city.