Ted Lerner, a real estate mogul whose family purchased the Washington Nationals in 2006, has died, the team announced Monday. He was 97.
According to a Nationals spokesperson, Lerner died at his home in Chevy Chase, Maryland, on Sunday due to pneumonia-related complications.
After MLB relocated the Nationals to Washington from Montreal in 2006, Lerner and his investors bought the team for $450 million.
Until 2018, he was the company’s managing principal owner until he passed the reins to his son Mark.
The Nationals, who were among baseball’s worst teams during their first few seasons in Washington under the Lerners’ ownership, won the 2019 World Series.
Since Nationals Park was built in 2008, the Lerners have also been lauded for their contributions to the redevelopment of the city’s Navy Yard neighborhood.
The team released a statement saying, “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Founding Managing Principal Owner Theodore N. Lerner.”
The return of professional baseball to the city he loved and, with it, a championship for the first time since 1924, was the crowning achievement of his family’s business, the Nationals said.
He was grateful for the franchise and all it had done for his beloved community, the team noted in the release.
Lerner was born the year after the Washington Senators defeated the New York Giants in the World Series, in 1925.
After the 1960 season, the team relocated to Minnesota as the Twins, and its expansion replacement, the Rangers, only lasted for ten years before leaving for Texas.
Prior to 2005, when MLB relocated the Expos from Montreal to Washington, D.C., the District of Columbia lacked a professional baseball franchise.
Lerner stepped in.
Forbes estimates the Lerners’ net worth at $6.6 billion thanks to the Nationals and Lerner Enterprises, one of the largest real estate development and management firms in the Washington, D.C. area.
According to ESPN, the Lerners began looking into selling the team last year, at which point it was valued at $2 billion.
“I have great appreciation for Ted’s impact on his hometown and the game he loved,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.
“The Nationals have always remained loyal to Ted’s vision of unity, philanthropy and civic pride in Washington.”