Opinion

Larry Lucchino, Top Executive at Three M.L.B. Teams, Dies at 78

Larry Lucchino, who as a top executive with the Baltimore Orioles and San Diego Padres oversaw the design and construction of modern stadiums that evoke their surroundings — Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore and Petco Park in San Diego — and who as president of the Boston Red Sox preserved Fenway Park for generations, died on Tuesday. He was 78.

The Red Sox announced the death but did not say where he died or give a cause. He had been treated for cancer three times.

“Larry’s career unfolded like a playbook of triumphs,” John Henry, the principal owner of the Red Sox, said in a statement, “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.”

Mr. Lucchino became president of the Red Sox in 2002 with the ascension of new ownership, led by Mr. Henry. In Mr. Lucchino’s 14 years with the team, the Red Sox won the World Series three times — the first of those championships, in 2004, broke an 86-year drought — and reached the postseason seven times. He oversaw improvements to Fenway Park that included installing seats above the Green Monster, the 37-foot-high left field wall, and vastly expanding concourses and concession areas.

Rather than replacing it with a new stadium, Mr. Lucchino envisioned a renovation that would keep Fenway, which opened in 1912, viable for decades.

“Have you learned nothing?” he said to Charles Steinberg, another Red Sox executive, according to a profile of Mr. Lucchino in The Sports Business Journal in 2021. “You can’t destroy the Mona Lisa. You preserve the Mona Lisa.”

Mr. Lucchino’s combative, competitive personality played into the rivalry between the Red Sox and the Yankees. In 2002, after the Yankees signed the Japanese slugger Hideki Matsui and the Cuban pitcher Jose Contreras within a few days, Mr. Lucchino told The New York Times, “The evil empire extends its tentacles even into Latin America.”

The title stuck — even as Boston’s success in the coming years exceeded that of the Yankees. A year later, Mr. Lucchino further described the Yankees-Red Sox dynamic.

“It’s white hot,” he told The Times. “It’s a rivalry on the field, it’s a rivalry in the press, it’s a rivalry in the front office, it’s a rivalry among the fan base.”

A full obituary will follow.

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