Tigers and Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch dead at 87

(Reuters) - American entrepreneur Mike Ilitch, owner of the Detroit Tigers and Red Wings, died on Friday at the age of 87, his company announced in a statement.

Ilitch, a first generation American of Macedonian descent who founded international fast food franchise Little Caesars Pizza, had owned the Tigers Major League Baseball team since 1992 and the Red Wings National Hockey League franchise since 1982.

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Mike Ilitch
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Mike Ilitch

Owner of the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers Mike Ilitch addresses the media during a news conference announcing the hosting of the Toronto Maple Leafs by the Red Wings at Michigan Stadium on the University of Michigan campus in the 2013 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, at the Detroit Tigers Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan February 9, 2012. Comerica Park in downtown Detroit will host the "Hockeytown Winter Festival" in mid-December with the main attraction being an ice rink built on the field where a Red Wings and Maple Leafs alumni game will be played.

(REUTERS/Rebecca Cook)

Detroit Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch (2NDL) and Coach Scotty Bowman (C) join Red Wings' Dominik Hasek (L), Luc Robitille (2NDR) and Darren McCarty as they celebrate the Red Wings victory over the Carolina Hurricanes June 13, 2002 to win the Stanley Cup in Detroit. The Red Wings won the series four games to one.

(REUTERS/Gary Hershorn)

Torii Hunter (C) tries on his new Detroit Tigers jersey with Tigers President, CEO & General Manager David Dombrowski (L ) and Tigers team owner Mike Ilitch during a press conference announcing he has agreed to a two-year contract with the Detroit Tigers American MLB baseball club in Detroit, Michigan November 16, 2012.

(REUTERS/Rebecca Cook)

Detroit Tigers owner Mike Ilitch looks on and smiles during the press conference to announce the signing of Victor Martinez #41 to a new four year contract at Comerica Park on November 14, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan.

(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland (L), Tigers owner Mike Ilitch (C) and general manager Dave Dombrowski celebrate after the Tigers defeated the New York Yankees and advanced to the World Series, after Game 4 of their MLB ALCS baseball playoff series in Detroit, Michigan, October 18, 2012.

(REUTERS/Rebecca Cook)

16 Jun 1998: Team owners of the Detroit Red Wings Mike and Marian Ilitch hold the Stanley Cup trophy up over their heads during the Stanley Cup Finals game against the Washington Capitals at the MCI Center in Washington, D. C.. The Red Wings defeated the Capitals 4-1.

(Robert Laberge /Allsport)

Detroit Tigers owner Mike Ilitch (R) and Victor Martinez #41 of the Detroit Tigers pose for a photo during the press conference to announce the signing of Martinez to a new four year contract at Comerica Park on November 14, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan.

(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Detroit Tigers owner Mike Ilitch looks on as newest Tigers pitcher Jordan Zimmermann #27 talks to the media during the press conference to announce his contract signing at Comerica Park on November 30, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan.

(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Detroit Tigers owner Mike Ilitch and President Dave Dombrowski pose before the game between the Detroit Tigers and the Toronto Blue Jays at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan on April 4, 2007. The Tigers defeated the Blue Jays 10-9.

(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Tigers owner Mike Ilitch stands outside his stadium suite to watch a ceremony honoring Detroit Tigers former manager Jim Leyland prior to the Minnesota Twins at Detroit Tigers Major League Baseball game at Comerica Park, in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers won 9-3.

(Photo by Tony Ding/Icon SMI/Corbis via Getty Images)

Detroit Red Wings owners Mike and Marian Ilitch walk the red carpet prior to the 2011 Hockey Hall of Fame Induction ceremony at the Hockey Hall Of Fame on November 14, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Team owner Mike Ilitch and General Manager Dave Dombrowski of the Detroit Tigers are interviewed after as they celebrate with the American League Championship trophy after the Tigers won 8-1 against the New York Yankees during game four of the American League Championship Series at Comerica Park on October 18, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan.

(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Brandon Inge of the Detroit Tigers shakes hands with Tigers owner Mike Ilitch and President Dave Dombrowski during the American League Championship Ring Ceremony before the game between the Detroit Tigers and the Toronto Blue Jays at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan on April 4, 2007. The Tigers defeated the Blue Jays 10-9.

(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Detroit Tigers President, CEO and General Manager Dave Dombrowski, Prince Fielder and Tigers Owner Mike Ilitch (L-R) pose for a photo during the press conference to announce Fielder's 9 year contract with the Tigers at Comerica Park on January 26, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan.

(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Newly hired Detroit Red Wings Head Coach Mike Babcock (C) is flanked by General Manager Ken Holland (L) and owner Mike Ilitch are shown during a news conference to announce Babcock's hiring July 15, 2005 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.

(Photo by Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images

Owner Mike Ilitch of the Detroit Red Wings celebrates with the Stanley Cup after defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins in game six of the 2008 NHL Stanley Cup Finals at Mellon Arena on June 4, 2008 in Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania. The Red Wings defeated the Penguins 3-2 to win the Stanley Cup Finals 4 games to 2.

(Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

Detroit Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch (R) presents Brett Hull his new Red Wings jersey August 23, 2001 during a press briefing in Detroit's Joe Louis Arena, home of the Detroit Red Wings. Hull, an unrestricted free agent forward, joined the NHL club after reaching terms on a two-year contract. Hull appeared in 79 games last season with the Dallas Stars scoring 39 goals and 40 assists for a total of 79 points. Hull will enter the 2001-2002 season 7th all-time in goals scored with 649.

(REUTERS/John C. JCH/ME)

Inductees into the Hockey Hall of Fame show off their rings after a news conference in Toronto November 3, 2003. From left to right are, Detroit Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch, inducted in the builder category, former New York Islander Pat Lafonatine, inducted in the player category, former Edmonton Oilers goaltender Grant Fuhr, inducted in the player category, and Brian Kilrea, Ottawa 67's coach, inducted in the builder category.

(REUTERS/Peter Jones)

Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer (C) holds in his hand the 24K-plated gold puck he is about to present to Red Wings' goalie Chris Osgood (R) during a victory rally June 18 for the Detroit Red Wings' repeat 1998 Stanley Cup champions at Hart Plaza in Detroit as Red Wings' team owner Mike Ilitch (L) listens. 

(Reuters Photographer / Reuters)

Detroit Tigers player Magglio Ordonez (2nd R) stands with Tigers manager Jim Leyland (L), general manager Dave Dombrowski and Tigers team owner Mike Ilitch (R) after announcing his retirement from MLB baseball before the start of their American League MLB baseball game against the New York Yankees in Detroit, Michigan June 3, 2012.

(REUTERS/Rebecca Cook)

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"My father was a once-in-a-generation entrepreneur, visionary and leader, setting the tone for our organization and our family," Christopher Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings, said in a statement.

"He made such a positive impact in the world of sports, in business and in the community, and we will remember him for his unwavering commitment to his employees, his passion for Detroit, his generosity to others and his devotion to his family and friends."

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Reaction to the death of Mike Ilitch
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Reaction to the death of Mike Ilitch
A lasting legacy. Rest in peace, Mr. Ilitch. https://t.co/QBmdLAJgyN
The baseball world mourns the passing of Detroit icon Mike Ilitch. https://t.co/rHEBDmHcK2 https://t.co/2AhsjoCYLF
Former President, former baseball team owner George W Bush on the passing of Mike Ilitch today. @tigers https://t.co/DasrcxKIgp
https://t.co/xVEFcEurGw
Saddened to hear about the passing of Mr.Ilitch. He was a pleasure to play for and his will to win was second to none. #MrI #Wings #Tigers
Really sad to learn the news of Mr I's passing. He meant everything to the Wings, Tigers & Detroit. Best owner in sports. #RIPMrIlitch
Ken Holland on Mike Ilitch. https://t.co/nSatJ0i6Xx
A moment of silence was observed at Joe Louis Arena in honor of Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch who died at 87. https://t.co/k18QDotAZW
Mike Ilitch brought superstars to Detroit for decades. His first big addition: a kid named Steve Yzerman. https://t.co/jYwaUkoM9M
The Rockies family extends our sympathies to the family and friends of Mike Ilitch, and the Detroit Tigers organiza… https://t.co/NBjaOUH5O7
https://t.co/agLdtjubpk
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(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in St. Augustine, Florida; Editing by Andrew Both)


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