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Larry Lucchino, force behind retro ballpark revolution and drought-busting Red Sox, dies at 78

Larry Lucchino

Larry Lucchino

BOSTON (AP) — Larry Lucchino, the hard-driving powerhouse behind baseball’s retro ballpark revolution and the transformation of the Boston Red Sox from cursed losers to World Series champions, has died. He was 78.

Lucchino, who had cancer, died on Monday, his family said. He had most recently been the primary owner and chairman of the Triple-A Worcester Red Sox, his last project in a career that also included three major league baseball franchises and one in the NFL.

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

A Pittsburgh native who played on the 1965 NCAA Final Four Princeton basketball team captained by future U.S. senator and basketball Hall of Famer Bill Bradley, Lucchino went on to Yale Law School and worked on the House Judiciary Committee investigating the Watergate scandal. He landed a job with Washington lawyer Edward Bennett Williams and soon found himself working on Williams’ sports teams, the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington NFL franchise now known as the Commanders.

Lucchino rose to president of the Orioles, and it was in his tenure that the team replaced Memorial Stadium with a downtown, old-style ballpark that ended the move toward cavernous, cookie-cutter stadiums surrounded by parking lots. Camden Yards became a trend-setter, and Lucchino himself would follow up with a new ballpark for the San Diego Padres, whom he served as president and CEO.

Lucchino rose to president of the Orioles, and it was in his tenure that the team replaced Memorial Stadium with a downtown, old-style ballpark that ended the move toward cavernous, cookie-cutter stadiums surrounded by parking lots. Camden Yards became a trend-setter, and Lucchino himself would follow up with a new ballpark for the San Diego Padres, whom he served as president and CEO.

Lucchino’s next stop was in Boston, helping to assemble the new ownership group led by John Henry and Tom Werner that bought the franchise in 2002. Their decision to update Fenway Park rather than replace it — bucking another trend — preserved one of baseball’s jewels, which will open its 113th season on April 9.

But an even bigger overhaul was taking place in the Red Sox front office, and on the field. After hiring as general manager the 28-year-old Theo Epstein — who…

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