Mike Ilitch: A timeline

The Detroit News

July 20, 1929

Born in Detroit to Macedonian immigrants Sotir and Sultana Ilitch. His father was a tool-and-die maker at Chrysler Corp.


Graduates from Cooley High School, where he was an all-city baseball player and a track star.


Serves in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was stationed at Parris Island, Quantico and Pearl Harbor.


Is a minor league shortstop with the Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees and Washington Senators organizations, rising to AAA. A bum knee forced him to retire.


Marries Dearborn resident Marian Bayoff, after meeting her on a blind date. The couple would have seven children.


Works as a door-to-door salesman, hawking aluminum awnings.

May 8, 1959

Mike and Marian Ilitch open the 200th Little Caesar's  pizza restaurant June 28 1988. The Ilitches opened their first pizzeria in a Garden City strip mall in 1959.

Opens first Little Caesars outlet in Garden City with $10,000 he’d saved.


Forms the Detroit Caesars professional softball team in the American Professional Slow Pitch Softball League. Several ex-Detroit Tigers played on the team.


Marian and Mike Ilitch rode an open car  in the Red Wings victory parade  near the Fox Theatre in  Detroit on June 17, 2002.

Purchases the Detroit Red Wings from Bruce Norris for $8 million.


The beautiful Fox Theatre in Detroit hosts the Republican Presidential debate on March 3, 2016.

Buys the Fox Theatre, which opened in 1928 and had fallen into disrepair.


Purchases the Detroit Drive Arena Football League team.


Purchases the Detroit Tigers from rival Tom Monaghan, owner of Domino’s Pizza, for $85 million.

April 2000

Among the interesting items in Detroit Tigers owner Mike Ilitch's Comerica Park office are the 1968 and 1984 World Series Championship Trophies (the '68 trophy is behind him) and a scale model of Comerica Park encased in glass.

Comerica Park, new home of the Detroit Tigers, opens. Ilitch contributed $185 million, or 62 percent of the construction costs, with taxpayers footing the additional $115 million bill.

July 2014

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, President and CEO of Ilitch Holdings Christopher Ilitch, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, and Detroit City Council President Pro Tempore George Cushingberry Jr. throw shovelfuls of dirt during the ground-breaking ceremony for the new stadium for the Detroit Red Wings, in Detroit, September 25, 2014.

Announces plans to build a new hockey stadium, Little Caesars Arena, as part of a project to develop several blocks north of downtown.

October 2015

Mike Ilitch reacts as he and his wife Marian were honored on Friday for their $40 million gift for the construction of a state-of-the-art business school for Wayne State University to be built in the heart of the new Detroit Red Wings arena district.

Donates land and a $35 million endowment to build the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University.

Feb. 10, 2017

Ilitch dies at age 87.