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Original Marlins owner Huizenga dies

MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

JUPITER, Fla. -- H. Wayne Huizenga, the original owner of the Marlins who once had controlling interest in three of South Florida's four major professional sports teams, died on Thursday night. He was 80.

"Major League Baseball extends its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Wayne Huizenga," Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. "Wayne played a pivotal role in bringing the Marlins to South Florida more than a quarter-century ago, and his leadership brought a World Championship season in 1997, the franchise's fifth year of existence. More important than Wayne's great success in business was his extraordinary philanthropy, which impacted many people and improved communities." 

JUPITER, Fla. -- H. Wayne Huizenga, the original owner of the Marlins who once had controlling interest in three of South Florida's four major professional sports teams, died on Thursday night. He was 80.

"Major League Baseball extends its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Wayne Huizenga," Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. "Wayne played a pivotal role in bringing the Marlins to South Florida more than a quarter-century ago, and his leadership brought a World Championship season in 1997, the franchise's fifth year of existence. More important than Wayne's great success in business was his extraordinary philanthropy, which impacted many people and improved communities." 

One of South Florida's most prominent entrepreneurs, Huizenga's efforts helped launch Major League Baseball in the market in 1993, the Marlins' inaugural season. In their fifth season, they won the franchise's first World Series championship, beating the Cleveland Indians in seven games.

The Marlins this year are honoring the 25th anniversary of that 1993 inaugural team.

"Today, we mourn the passing of the original Florida Marlin, Mr. H. Wayne Huizenga, who will be remembered as much for his contributions to South Florida professional sports as he was for his many charitable endeavors in the surrounding community," the Marlins said Friday in a statement released by the team.

Along with having control of the Marlins, Huizenga also previously owned the NFL's Miami Dolphins and the NHL's Florida Panthers. He also had controlling interest in Hard Rock Stadium, the former home of the Marlins and current home of the Dolphins.

According to reports, Huizenga had been battling cancer.

A Fort Lauderdale resident, Huizenga was one of the state's most successful entrepreneurs, serving as the driving force in three Fortune 500 companies: Waste Management, Blockbuster Entertainment and AutoNation.

The Marlins and Panthers each had their inaugural seasons in 1993. Huizenga also owned the Dolphins from '93-2008.

In their history, the Marlins have had four owners: Huizenga from 1993-98, John Henry ('99-2001), Jeffrey Loria ('02-17) and Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter ('17-present).

From 1993-2011, the organization was called the Florida Marlins, and it became the Miami Marlins in '12, in the club's first season at Marlins Park.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Miami Marlins