Former Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino dies at 78

Larry Lucchino, the former president and CEO of the Boston Red Sox who oversaw three World Series titles during his tenure, has died at the age of 78, the team announced Tuesday.

Lucchino became CEO of the Red Sox upon purchase of the team by the ownership group headed by John Henry and Tom Werner in February 2002. Lucchino, who stepped down from his role in 2015, had a smaller financial stake. He previously served as president/CEO of the Baltimore Orioles (1989-93) and San Diego Padres (1995-2001).

Lucchino was with the Orioles when they won the World Series in 1983, he was Padres CEO when San Diego went to the World Series in 1998, and he presided over the 2004 World Series title that ended Boston’s 86-year drought, as well as subsequent championships in 2007 and 2013.

As CEO of the Red Sox, Lucchino famously clashed with late New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. It was Lucchino who labeled the Yankees “the Evil Empire” in an interview with The New York Times.

“Larry’s career unfolded like a playbook of triumphs, marked by transformative moments that reshaped ballpark design, enhanced the fan experience, and engineered the ideal conditions for championships wherever his path led him, and especially in Boston,” Henry said in a statement. “Yet, perhaps his most enduring legacy lies in the remarkable people he helped assemble at the Red Sox, all of whom are a testament to his training, wisdom, and mentorship.

“Many of them continue to shape the organization today, carrying forward the same vigor, vitality, and cherished sayings that were hallmarks of Larry’s personality. Larry was a formidable opponent in any arena, and while he battled hard, he always maintained the utmost respect for a worthy adversary and found genuine joy in sparring with people. I was lucky enough to have had him in my corner for 14 years and to have called him a close friend for even longer. He was truly irreplaceable and will be missed by all of us at the Red Sox.”

Lucchino was an attorney whose involvement in sports can be traced to his long association with famous trial attorney Edward Bennett Williams, who was the owner of the NFL’s Washington franchise when Lucchino became the team’s general counsel and a member of the team’s board of directors from 1979 to 1985.

Lucchino often cited Williams as his mentor, and when Williams bought the Orioles in 1979, Lucchino became the team’s vice president and general counsel before he was promoted to president in 1988.

“Larry Lucchino was one of the most accomplished executives that our industry has ever had,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “He was deeply driven, he understood baseball’s place in our communities, and he had a keen eye for executive talent.

“Larry’s vision for Camden Yards played a vital role in advancing fan-friendly ballparks across the game. He followed up by overseeing the construction of Petco Park, which remains a jewel of the San Diego community. Then Larry teamed with John Henry and Tom Werner to produce the most successful era in Red Sox history, which included historic World Series championships on the field and a renewed commitment to Fenway Park.”

A native of Pittsburgh, Lucchino was a teammate of Bill Bradley, the former New York Knicks star and U.S. Senator, when Princeton went to the Final Four in 1965. He has a Final Four watch from that season, a Super Bowl ring from his time with Washington (1983) and four World Series rings.

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