By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Tag: John Harrington

How Larry Lucchino saved The Boston Phoenix — and how the Phoenix saved Fenway Park

Larry Lucchino, right, celebrates the Red Sox’ 2013 World Series win. Photo (cc) 2013 by Alicia Porter.

Former Red Sox president Larry Lucchino, who died Tuesday at the age of 78, not only saved Fenway Park — he also saved The Boston Phoenix. His friend and former Red Sox executive Charles Steinberg recalled in an interview with WBUR Radio earlier this week that he once asked Lucchino whether he planned to replace the ancient ballpark. Lucchino’s response: “You don’t destroy the Mona Lisa! You preserve the Mona Lisa!”

In the years before the John Henry-Tom Werner group bought the Red Sox in 2001, the fate of Fenway Park was far from clear. The previous owner — a trust set up by the late Jean Yawkey and headed by Yawkey confidant John Harrington — wanted to build a new ballpark farther south on Brookline Avenue. And that would have required the razing of 126 Brookline Ave., an office building owned by Phoenix publisher Stephen Mindich. The building’s second and third floors were occupied by the Phoenix.

Mindich declared war on Harrington’s plans, and the Phoenix was mobilized on his behalf. My friend Seth Gitell and I as well as others, including future Wall Street Journal sports columnist Jason Gay, inveighed against the proposal, arguing that a new ballpark would be better suited to a different neighborhood, such as what is now the Seaport District but was then a barren landscape of parking lots.

One of the last stories we published before the Red Sox were sold came in December 2001. Written by Seth and me, it includes this:

But if the winner of this high-stakes sweepstakes has yet to be named, it’s already clear who the loser will be. Us. Us as in baseball fans. Us as in taxpaying citizens. Us as in ordinary people who occasionally enjoy the simple pleasure of attending a game at the ballpark or tuning in the Sox on TV without having to pay through the nose.

Well, we were certainly right about the cost of attending a game and of NESN cable fees.

There were all kinds of names being bandied about at that time, including cable magnate Charles Dolan as well as local favorites Joe O’Donnell and Steve Karp. Dolan was thought to favor keeping Fenway, telling The Boston Globe: “If they can’t watch the game here, they can watch it on TV.”

But the Henry group was coming together, and it was clear that then-Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig was hoping to steer the sale Henry’s way. That’s exactly what happened later that month, with Lucchino brought in as part of the ownership group and emerging as the main cheerleader for refurbishing Fenway Park rather than demolishing it. As the force behind Baltimore’s retro Camden Yards, the first of the new generation of classic ballparks, Lucchino was the ideal person to lead that effort.

The Phoenix was saved, at least for the time being; it shut down in 2013, falling victim to the economic forces that had been battering the newspaper business. Henry bought the Globe later that year and slowly transformed it into a growing and profitable paper. And the Red Sox, playing in the iconic ballpark that John Harrington wanted to tear down, won World Series in 2004, 2007, 2013 and 2018, although they are currently in the midst of an uncertain rebuilding process.

Larry Lucchino deserves credit for giving the Phoenix another dozen good years. And Stephen Mindich, who died in 2018, deserves some credit for saving Fenway Park in the years before Lucchino arrived on the scene.

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Two Globe copy editors are retiring

A couple of stalwarts on the Boston Globe’s copy desk are retiring. The following is an email to the staff from Mary Creane, the Globe’s senior assistant managing editor for production. The last line is key: “We will be filling both jobs.” What follows is the text of her email, which someone forwarded to me a little while ago.

Hi All

Bob Scherer-Hoock has decided to hang up his pica pole, proportion wheel, and non-repro blue pen (look them up).

Bob has been a rock on every iteration of the copy desk for many years. He helped with the implementation of four (maybe five) content management systems and still finds ways to make Methode do things that baffle many of us.

If he has touched a story, it has come out better. If he has laid out a page, it is uncluttered and clean.

We will miss his skills, but also his dry and penetrating wit and his compassion.

Bob’s last shift with us is July 8.


John Harrington is leaving us as well. John has been a stalwart on the desk with a speciality in Business and Boston.

He knows where everything is in Boston and can tell you where to eat and what to get when you get there.

Stories edited by John are more clear and have fewer extraneous words than when he started.

We will miss his broad knowledge of the city and its history as well as his humor and haikus.

John’s last shift with us is July 15.

We will find a way to say goodbye properly, in the meantime, ask Bob all your Methode questions now and get John to give you a dining recommendation….

We will be filling both jobs.


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