Larry Lucchino, who oversaw Red Sox teams that won 3 World Series titles, dead at 78

Larry Lucchino

Larry Lucchino, who as president and CEO of the Boston Red Sox led the franchise to three World Series titles to squash the 86-year-old “Curse of the Bambino,” died Tuesday, the team announced. He was 78.

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Lucchino, who was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2016, previously had been suffering from cancer, ESPN reported. He died from congenital heart failure, WFXT-TV reported. His death was confirmed by his family and the Triple-A Worcester Red Sox, where he had most recently been the primary owner and chairman, according to the television station.

He served as the Red Sox team president from 2002 through 2015, and Boston won World Series championships in 2004, 2007 and 2013, WFXT reported. The ‘04 squad was the first Red Sox squad to win a World Series title since 1918, when Babe Ruth was a star left-handed pitcher for the franchise. The Red Sox got there by winning the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees, becoming the first team to overcome a 3-0 series deficit.

Lucchino famously feuded with Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, calling the franchise “the Evil Empire” in a 2002 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,” 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.”

Lucchino became CEO of the Red Sox when Henry and Tom Werner bought the franchise in 2002, ESPN reported. He also served as president and CEO of the Baltimore Orioles from 1989 to 1993 and the San Diego Padres from 1995 to 2001. He was also with the Orioles when the team won the World Series in 1983, according to the sports cable news outlet.

Former Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez said Lucchino’s combative exterior camouflaged a caring friend.

“My heart goes out to the Lucchino family. They lost not only a great man, but a visionary with the biggest heart,” Martinez, who was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015 and was the ace of the 2004 team that won the World Series. “Even though he tried to cover it playing shy and trying to hide away from people’s eyes … but not me; he didn’t fool me.”

Lucchino was born on Sept. 6, 1945, in Pittsburgh, according to the Times. He played second base for his high school baseball team in Pittsburgh, which won a city championship.

He played college basketball at Princeton University and was a guard on the 1965 team led by Bill Bradley that reached the Final Four, according to the newspaper.

Lucchino earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Princeton in 1967 and graduated from Yale Law School four years later, the Times reported. In 1973, he worked on the Watergate impeachment inquiry as a staff attorney for the House Judiciary Committee, according to the newspaper.

In addition to his baseball duties in Boston, Lucchino was also chairman of the Jimmy Fund, which helped to save his life on three occasions, WFXT reported.

Lucchino first beat non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1985 and then prostate cancer in 2000, according to the television station. He began cancer treatment for the kidney area in 2019.

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