Larry Lucchino, Red Sox president during 3 World Series championships, dead at 78

Larry Lucchino, who was the Boston Red Sox team president while the franchise won three World Series championships, died Tuesday at the age of 78.

Lucchino began his tenure with the Red Sox when John Henry purchased the team in December 2001. During his 14-year stint as team president, Boston won World Series titles in 2004, 2007 and 2013, breaking the “Curse of the Bambino” that had plagued the franchise and its fan base for 86 years.

After Lucchino’s first season, he hired 28-year-old Theo Epstein to be the team’s general manager. With that front office, including team chairman Tom Werner, the Red Sox qualified for the postseason seven times.

Lucchino also raised the stakes of the fierce rivalry between the Red Sox and New York Yankees, coining the term “Evil Empire” in reference to their AL East adversaries.

“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,” Henry said. “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 Lucchino was one of the most accomplished executives that our industry has ever had,” MLB 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.”

Prior to joining the Red Sox, Lucchino was team president for the Baltimore Orioles (from 1988-93) and president and CEO of the San Diego Padres (1995-2001). He was a key figure in the design of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, which launched MLB’s trend of building new ballparks with classic, quirky elements located in downtown areas. In San Diego, Lucchino also led the development of Petco Park.

Though he didn’t build a new ballpark in Boston, he led efforts to update and modernize Fenway Park. Among the improvements made to the classic ballpark were seats atop the distinct “Green Monster” wall in left field, remodeling the home clubhouse, expanding concourses, adding club suites behind home plate and an upper deck in right field.

“The Red Sox are magic words to the ears of any baseball executive,” Lucchino said upon coming to Boston, via The Boston Globe. “It’s Mecca. It’s the top of the mountain.”