Ilitch's son did release a statement Friday night saying in part, "My father was a once in a generation entrepreneur, visionary and leader, setting the tone for our organization and our family".
After making his fortune as the owner of the Little Caesers pizza chain that originated in suburban Detroit in the 1950s and went national, Ilitch purchased the Red Wings in 1982 and the Tigers in 1992. He and his wife, Marian, were listed by Forbes at No. 86 in its 2016 rankings of the richest people in America, with a net worth of $5.8 billion. Over the course of four years, Ilitch played for the Tigers, New York Yankees, and Washington Senators.
- From Rod Wood, president of the Detroit Lions: "On behalf of the Martha Ford Family and the Detroit Lions, we extend our deepest and most honest sympathies to the Ilitch Family and to the Red Wings, Tigers, Little Caesars and Olympia Entertainment organizations on the passing of Mike Ilitch".
One of the store's first customers, Valerie Davis, said she was so excited when it opened. The team reached the World Series on two occasions during his ownership (2006, 2012), but have been unable to win it all since 1984. Though they would lose in the World Series, the Tigers remained a strong contender through 2014.
The owner of the Detroit Tigers and Red Wings has died. When I went to college, it was the first time I had good internet and could listen to the radio feed of every Wings game.
"I've never seen a man more dedicated to this community and to baseball than Mr I", Tigers executive vice president and general manager Al Avila said.
Ilitch graduated from Cooley High School in Detroit and then joined the Marine.
Image courtesy Ilitch Holdings. He kept his businesses private, and he could bristle when asked about internal matters, such as his financial relationship with the City of Detroit, which benefited greatly from his presence and lured him with public funds. "But we all understand we have to produce to be around for a long time".
Mike Ilitch and his wife Marian had been married since 1955 and had seven kids.