Memorial candle
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Ted Lerner, the billionaire real estate developer whose family bought the Washington Nationals baseball team in 2006, has died at the age of 97, the team announced Monday.

A spokesperson for the Nationals quoted by The Associated Press said Lerner died Sunday of complications from pneumonia at his home in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Lerner was born on October 15, 1925, in Washington, DC, and was raised in an Orthodox Jewish family.

His group purchased the Nationals from Major League Baseball in 2006 for $450 million, after the team was moved to the US capital from Montreal. He was managing principal owner until ceding that role to son Mark in 2018.

Under the Lerners’ ownership, the Nationals went from one of baseball’s worst teams in their first several seasons in Washington to World Series champions in 2019.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Founding Managing Principal Owner Theodore N. Lerner,” the team said in a statement quoted by AP. “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.”

Washington did not have a baseball team from 1960 and until MLB assumed control of the Montreal Expos and moved them to the US capital in 2005. The group led by the Lerners was chosen as the winning bidder.

Last year, the Lerners began exploring the possibility of selling the team, which is worth $2 billion, according to Forbes.