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Larry Lucchino, former Boston Red Sox president, dies at 78

Larry Lucchino remembered as a "driven, passionate" baseball man
Larry Lucchino remembered as a "driven, passionate" baseball man 02:26

BOSTON -- Larry Lucchino, the former president and CEO of the Boston Red Sox, died Tuesday at the age of 78.

Lucchino served in that president and CEO role with the Red Sox from 2002-15, joining the organization alongside Tom Werner as part of John Henry's ownership group. The group delivered World Series titles in 2004 (ending an 86-year championship drought), 2007 and 2013.

In 2015, Lucchino joined a group that bought the Worcester Red Sox, becoming the chairman and principal owner of the team.

"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," Red Sox principal owner John 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."   

Prior to joining the Red Sox, Lucchino was the president of the Baltimore Orioles from 1988-93 and was the president and CEO of the San Diego Padres from 1995-2001. Lucchino met intern Theo Epstein while with the Orioles and hired him in San Diego before hiring Epstein as the Red Sox' general manager in 2002. During his time with the Red Sox, he famously referred to the New York Yankees as "the evil empire" in 2002, a nickname that stuck for years.

"When John and I joined forces with Larry in 2001, we dreamed not only of breaking an 86-year curse and winning multiple Championships, but also about how a baseball team could transform and uplift a region," Werner said. "Larry was more decorated in sports than any of us, coming to the group with a Super Bowl ring, a World Series ring, and even a Final Four watch from his days playing basketball at Princeton. He added to that impressive collection with us in Boston because he was the kind of man who would find a path to success no matter the obstacles. He was bold and had the audacity to dare, challenge, and even taunt our rivals in ways that made the game of baseball better. In a sport defined by statistics and standings, he was accomplished in every way, and while his career is a masterclass in leadership and innovation, he will be equally remembered for his unwavering commitment to community engagement and his hands-on role with the Red Sox Foundation and The Jimmy Fund. We are devasted by the loss of a great man, a great leader, and a great friend."

Related: Lucchino remembered for commitment to cancer community

A member of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame and the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame, Lucchino played in the Final Four with Princeton in 1967.

"To us, Larry was an exceptional person who combined a Hall of Fame life as a Major League Baseball executive with his passion for helping those people most in need," Lucchino's family said in a statement. "Taking charge of building Baltimore's Orioles Park at Camden Yards, San Diego's Petco Park, and Polar Park for the Worcester Red Sox, as well as his role in the Boston Red Sox 'reversing the curse' by winning the 2004 World Series, were exemplary accomplishments. Equally important to Larry was the establishment of a first-of-its-kind in professional sports 'San Diego Padres Scholars' college scholarship program, co-founding the Boston Red Sox Foundation, and being Chairman of the Jimmy Fund, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's grassroots effort to help save lives and give hope to cancer patients everywhere. He brought the same passion, tenacity, and probing intelligence to all his endeavors, and his achievements speak for themselves."

Lucchino was treated at the Dana-Farber Institute in the mid-1980s for non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He also was treated for prostate cancer in 1999 and kidney cancer in 2019. In 2016, he was appointed chairman of the Jimmy Fund while also being named president/CEO emeritus for the Red Sox.

In lieu of flowers, Lucchino's family said that donations can be made to the Larry Lucchino Family Fund at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund.

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