Ted Lerner, a billionaire real estate developer whose family bought the Washington Nationals in 2006, has died, the team announced Monday. He was 97.
A spokesman for the Nationals said that Lerner died on Sunday at his home in Chevy Chase, Maryland, due to complications from pneumonia.
After moving to the nation’s capital from Montreal, Lerner’s organization purchased the Nationals from Major League Baseball for $450 million in 2006. He was the managing owner until 2018 when he gave that job to his son Mark.
Sadly, 2023 has already seen the passing of numerous well-known figures. You can read more about their passing in our other articles if you’re curious:
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- South African Rapper Kiernan “AKA” Forbes Has Reportedly Died at Age 35
Under the Lerners’ ownership, the Nationals went from being one of the worst teams in baseball during their first few years in Washington to winning the World Series in 2019.
Since Nationals Park opened in 2008, the Lerners are also credited with giving the city’s Navy Yard area a new lease on life. The team said in a statement –
“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Founding Managing Principal Owner Theodore N. Lerner.”
“The crowning achievement of his family business was bringing baseball back to the city he loved — and with it, bringing a championship home for the first time since 1924. He cherished the franchise and what it brought to his beloved hometown.”
The Nationals also sent out a tweet to honor Lerner –
Ted Lerner is the reason baseball came back to DC after 33 years.
Thank you, Ted.
Rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/FCgEchEYmO
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) February 13, 2023
Lerner was born in 1925, which was the year after the Washington Senators won the World Series against the New York Giants. That team left the city in 1960 to become the Minnesota Twins, and its expansion replacement stayed for ten years before moving to Texas as the Rangers.
Before 2005, when MLB took over the Expos and moved them from Montreal to Washington, D.C., the city did not have a baseball team. The winning bid went to the group led by the Lerners.
Forbes says the team is worth $2 billion and the family’s net worth is $6.6 billion thanks to the Nationals and Lerner Enterprises, one of the largest real estate development and management companies in the Washington area. The Lerners started looking into selling the team last year.
In a statement, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred called Lerner “an extraordinary American success story” and said that he was a former stadium usher who made baseball popular again in the nation’s capital.
Manfred said –
“I have great appreciation for Ted’s impact on his hometown and the game he loved.”
“The Nationals have always remained loyal to Ted’s vision of unity, philanthropy and civic pride in Washington.”