Hiroshi Yamauchi, the long-time former president of Nintendo, passed away from pneumonia on Thursday at the age of 85 years old. Hiroshi Yamauchi carries the legacy of transforming Nintendo from a company that sold playing cards and toys into a multi-billion dollar video game giant.
Nintendo released a statement earlier today:
“The entire Nintendo group will carry on the spirit of Mr. Yamauchi by honoring, in our approach to entertainment, the sense of value he has taught us — that there is merit in doing what is different — and at the same time, by changing Nintendo in accordance with changing times,” said Nintendo president Satoru Iwata in a statement.
Yamauchi’s influence over the game industry will not be forgotten. After the Video Game Crash of 1983, it would be the Nintendo Entertainment System that would save the game industry from the brink of disaster. Hiroshi Yamauchi was president of the company for the launches of the NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, Nintendo GameCube, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance systems.
Hiroshi Yamauchi was also known for buying the Seattle Mariners, but never actually watched any of their games. During the early 90’s, there was discussion about the Mariners leaving Seattle and moving to Florida. Yamauchi’s purchase of the Mariners meant the team would never leave Seattle.
The Seattle Mariners released the following statement:
“The Seattle Mariners organization is deeply saddened by the passing today of Mr. Hiroshi Yamauchi,” the club said in a statement. “His leadership of Nintendo is legendary worldwide. His decision in 1992 to purchase the Mariners franchise and keep Major League Baseball in Seattle as a ‘gesture of goodwill to the citizens of the Pacific Northwest’ is legendary in this region. Mr. Yamauchi will be remembered for his role in moving forward the opportunity for Japanese baseball players to play in the United States. He will forever be a significant figure in Mariners Baseball history.”
Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig also shared some kind words for Hiroshi Yamauchi.
“On behalf of Major League Baseball, I am saddened by the passing of Hiroshi Yamauchi,” Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. “This visionary businessman quietly played a pivotal role in preserving Major League Baseball in the Pacific Northwest for generations, and we are grateful for his selfless gesture to help the fans of Seattle following a period of uncertainty for their local baseball Club. We are proud not only that he made the Mariners the first Major League Club with international ownership, but also that the franchise continues to represent its region with such distinction and strong global roots. I extend my deepest condolences to Mr. Yamauchi’s family, friends and business associates.”
A funeral will be held for Hiroshi Yamauchi’s death on Sunday at Nintendo, with a wake scheduled a day earlier.