In this June 17. 1998, file photo, Detroit Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch, center, hoists the Stanley Cup in Washington after the Red Wings won their second consecutive NHL championship. (Julian H. Gonzalez/Detroit Free Press via AP)

Mike Ilitch, the owner of the Detroit Tigers and the Detroit Red Wings, died Friday at the age of 87. A family spokesman said that Ilitch died while in the hospital, per the AP.

Ilitch, who founded the Little Caesars pizza chain in 1959, bought the NHL’s Red Wings in 1982 and presided over four Stanley Cup titles. He bought Major League Baseball’s Tigers 10 years later. The Tigers reached the World Series twice under Ilitch’s stewardship, once in 2006 and again in 2012, but did not win a championship.

Ilitch’s son Christopher released a statement on behalf of the Ilitch family.

“My father was a once-in-a-generation entrepreneur, visionary and leader, setting the tone for our organization and our family. 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.”

Condolences for Ilitch’s family quickly spread across social media, with a prevailing theme being admiration for Ilitch’s commitment to building winning teams.



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