Mike Ilitch was a businessman who founded the company Little Caesars pizza and used his fortune to purchase both the Detroit Tigers and the Detroit Red Wings. He passed away yesterday at the age of 87.
Although it is true that he was the owner of a billion-dollar fast food company and two professional sports teams, he was much more than that to a lot of people. Ilitch was also a husband and a father; he survived by his wife Marian, his son Christopher, and his daughter Denise. According to Ilitch’s son Christopher, Ilitch will be long be remembered for his devotion to his work and his family, as well as his immense love for the city of Detroit.
Ilitch first emerged in the world of sports thirty-five years ago, when purchased the Detroit Red Wings for 8 million dollars. He made it his mission to turn the team into a winner and although it took time, the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup four times in just eleven seasons. Back to back from 1997 to 1998, again in 2002 and most recently in 2008.
Just ten years after Ilitch purchased the Red Wings, Ilitch was writing a much larger check to purchase the Detroit Tigers. In 1992, Ilitch bought the franchise for 85 million dollars. The team underwent major changes under his management. First building Comerica Park and leaving the old Tiger Stadium behind. Next Ilitch began to sign big name players in hopes of winning championships. The Tigers owner had a way of creating a winning atmosphere, his success in his personal life carried over into his work life. Although the Tigers never brought home a World Series, they did make an appearance in 2012. Tigers players Justin Verlander and Ian Kinsler expressed the immense loss that is felt because of his passing.
Not every owner is as committed to their teams and their city as much as Mike Ilitch was. Born in Detroit, raised in Detroit and died in Detroit. I think it is fair to say he truly loved his city, his teams, but most of all his family. Mike Ilitch will most surely be missed.