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In memoriam: Larry Lucchino

Larry Lucchino, a pioneer in the art of ballpark design after overseeing the development of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Petco Park, Fenway Park modernizations and Polar Park, passed away yesterday. He was 78.

Larry Lucchino served as president of the Baltimore Orioles from 1988 through 1993, where he put together the team that created one of the most iconic and influential designs in MLB ballpark history—a team that included designer Janet Marie Smith and Populous (then known as HOK). After taking over as president/CEO (as well as a minority share of the team) of the San Diego Padres from 1995-01, Lucchino laid the groundwork for Petco Park, which opened in 2004. In both cases, Lucchino had a very clear vision of the ballpark as urban amenity, bringing baseball back to the city. But while he and the Oriole Park design team pushed a retro aesthetic, Petco Park—also designed by Populous—featured a more modern design while also incorporating a few retro elements within, including the wholesale inclusion of an existing Western Metal Supply building. Context was all.

Moving east to Massachusetts, Lucchino took over as Boston Red Sox president/CEO from 2002 through 2015, reuniting with Smith and embarking on a massive renovation of Fenway Park for the John Henry/Tom Werner ownership group. The most visible sign of that renovation came with the addition of seating atop the Green Monster, but it also included the opening of indoor spaces past the right-field seating and the addition of upper-level seating in right field as well. 

Oh, and the Red Sox won three World Series under his leadership.

His final baseball act came with the purchase of the Pawtucket Red Sox and the subsequent move of the team to Worcester’s Polar Park, another facility construction overseen by Smith. 

Lucchino was born Sept. 6, 1945, in Pittsburgh and attended Princeton University (playing basketball alongside Bill Bradley and making the Final Four in 1965), eventually earning a J.D. from Yale. He worked on sports-related litigation for the Williams & Connolly law firm—headed by Edward Bennett Williams, who owned shares of both the Orioles and the NFL’s Washington Redskins. He made the jump to the Orioles in 1988.

Photo courtesy Worcester Red Sox.

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