Mike Ilitch, founder of Little Caesars Pizza and a former minor-league baseball player who went on to own the Detroit Tigers and Red Wings, has died, reports WDET’s Pat Batcheller.
Ilitch, born in Detroit to Macedonian immigrants, opened his first pizza store with his wife, Marian, in the Detroit suburb of Garden City in 1959, Pat reports; today Little Caesars’ parent company says it’s the world’s largest carryout pizza chain.
Business was so good that Ilitch eventually was able to purchase the Detroit Red Wings hockey team in 1982, and a decade later baseball’s Detroit Tigers — the same team he once had a minor-league contract with, Pat reports. He acquired the Tigers from business rival Tom Monaghan, whose own Domino’s Pizza got its start in Ypsilanti, Mich., a year later and less than 25 miles from Ilitch’s first store.
Christopher Ilitch, one of Mike and Marian Ilitch’s seven children, will take over operations for the businesses, the Detroit Free Press reports.