The Seattle Mariners were purchased in 1992 by Hiroshi Yamauchi. The sale of the team to Yamauchi, for all intents and purposes, kept the team from relocating to Florida. Without their current owner, the team would have had no record-setting winning season, no 1995 postseason memories, no Ichiro Suzuki. And yet ... Hiroshi Yamauchi has never seen his team play. 2012 might finally be the opportunity for this long-past-due event, as the Mariners open the season against the Oakland Athletics in Japan.
Owen Good at Kotaku points out that the 84-year-old lifelong resident of Japan will not have many more golden opportunities to see his team play and the gesture would be monumental, not only for M's fans, but likely for Yamauchi himself.
It is possible that Yamauchi's holdout for supporting his team in person stems from the brusque treatment he received from Major League Baseball when he brokered the deal in the first place. MLB was very reluctant to sell one of their lucrative franchises to an entity outside of the United States and limited his voting interest in the team when the deal was first approved. If hard feelings are the reason for Yamauchi's not attending a game, that's completely understandable.
I, for one, hope the owner will take advantage of his team playing in Japan and head out to see them. It would make for an emotional event and if there's one thing I can never get enough of in baseball, it's feel-good moments.
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