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

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.


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


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

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

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

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.

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