In the ultra-rare combination of news between the video gaming and sports worlds, Nintendo of America intends to keep their majority ownership of the Seattle Mariners, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal. Mariners Chairman Howard Lincoln confirmed as such, speaking to the uncertainty of the ownership after the passing of longtime Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi.
When many people think of Mr. Yamauchi, they think of how he turned Nintendo from a trading card company into the video gaming conglomerate that it is today. However, for Seattle baseball fans, his actions saved the sport from leaving their town.
Back in 1992 Hiroshi Yamauchi bought the Seattle Mariners from then-owner Jeff Smulyan before plans of selling the team to a Florida-based ownership group. He acted as majority owner before transferring those rights to Nintendo of America after stepping down as Nintendo president. While Florida did eventually get two teams in the Florida (now Miami) Marlins and the Tampa Bay Rays, Seattle baseball was saved and the Mariners remain in the state of Washington to this very day.
We knew that Yamauchi helped pave the way for video game characters like Mario, Luigi and Zelda, but his connections within baseball may have helped pave the way for a greater number of Japanese baseball players to make it big in America. Guys like Ichiro Suzuki, Hisashi Iwakuma and Munenori Kawasaki all started their MLB careers with the Seattle Mariners, all of which have become household names in many different ways. It is not just Nintendo or video gaming that has lost a legend, but the Seattle faithful and the game of baseball, too.