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John J. McMullen, at 87; ex-owner of Astros, Devils

MONTCLAIR, N.J. -- John J. McMullen, former owner of the New Jersey Devils and the Houston Astros, died Friday. He was 87.

The cause of death was not released by the Devils.

Mr. McMullen was credited with bringing NHL hockey to New Jersey, acquiring the Colorado franchise in 1982 and moving it to the Meadowlands Sports Complex. Under his ownership, the team won two Stanley Cups. He sold the franchise in 2000 to an affiliate of the YankeeNets sports holding company for $175 million.

Mr. McMullen owned the Astros from 1979 to 1992. He then sold the team to Drayton McLane Jr. for $115 million.

Mr. McMullen purchased a share of the Yankees in 1974 and said ''There is nothing quite so limited as being a limited partner of George Steinbrenner's."

Mr. McMullen was a native of Jersey City. He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1940 and rose to the rank of commander during a 15-year naval career. He received a master's degree in naval architecture and engineering from MIT and a doctorate in mechanical engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.

In 1959, he founded John J. McMullen Associates, an international firm of naval architects and marine engineers known for its innovations in commercial and naval ship design. In 1972, he acquired Norton Lilly International, a shipping agency.

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