The state of Rhode Island lost a legend on Sunday evening, as longtime Pawtucket Red Sox owner Ben Mondor passed away in his home. He was 85 years old.
?Ben was a giant among men who saved baseball for the State of Rhode Island. On both a personal and professional level, I am saddened to hear of his passing,? said Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino. ?He was a good friend of many years and was one of the finest people to ever be a part of the game of baseball. When we honored him on ?Ben Mondor Day? at Fenway Park in 2004, the sheer number of people who came to join us in the celebrations showed the profound impact that his life had on the game and on the lives of people. His generosity, kindness and compassion will be missed, but what a life he led.?
Mondor purchased the PawSox in 1977 and was twice named International League Executive of the Year. He was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2004 and the International League Hall of Fame in 2008.
"Ben Mondor has turned what was once one of the worst franchises in Minor League Baseball into one of the most successful in all of baseball," reads his information on the IL Hall of Fame website. "Under Mondor?s leadership the PawSox have gone from drawing 70,000 fans in 1977 to an all-time franchise record 688,421 fans in 2005."
Mondor was revered in Rhode Island not only for resurrecting its minor league baseball franchise but also for maintaining a family-friendly environment.
"This is a blue-collar area," he told The Providence Journal in April. "We've always geared our prices to that. The fans have rewarded us by coming to the park. And coming. And coming."
Governor Donald Carcieri was quick to offer praise of Mondor upon the news of his passing.
"Ben Mondor meant a great deal more to Rhode Island than just owning a baseball team," Carcieri said in a statement. "He was a community leader who supported so many worth causes and who exemplified civic responsibility."