Oct 21, 2016

Italian / American MLB Manager: Terry Francona

Terry Jon Francona was born April 22, 1959 in Aberdeen, South Dakota. He is the son of former MLB outfielder Tito Francona, who batted .272 lifetime over 15 seasons.

The Francona’s lived outside of Pittsburgh where Terry grew up playing baseball in an MLB family. He became a star player at the University of Arizona, winning the Silver Spikes Award as his team won the 1980 College World Series.

He was selected by the Montreal Expos in the first round of the 1980 draft (the 22nd pick overall). Francona came up right away, after the 1981 baseball strike batting .274 in 34 games. He went 4-12 in the 1981 NLDS, batting .333 against the Phillies. He then went 0-1 playing in two games of the NLCS against the eventual World Champion Los Angeles Dodgers. It would be his only post season appearance as a player.


In 1982 he was hitting real well batting .321 in June when he injured himself on the astro turf of St. Louis’ Busch Stadium. In 1983 he saw action in a career high 120 games, but was only batting .217 at the start of September. 

He went on a tear batting .550 for the month, convincing the Expos he was the first baseman of their future, as they Warren Cromarte leave for free agency. He finished the year batting .257. The next season he was among the league leaders in batting, hitting .346 in June when another injury ruined his season.

Terry Francona was journeyman outfielder / first baseman just like his dad, over ten seasons. He made stops playing in Montreal (1981-1985) Chicago Cubs (1986), Cincinnati Reds as one of the players replacing Pete Rose (1987) Cleveland (1988) where he hit .311 in 62 games & Milwaukee (1989-1990) finishing his ten year career.

Lifetime he hit .274 with 474 hits 16 HRs 74 doubles & 143 RBIs in 707 games played.

He quickly became a minor league manger & in 1996 was named coach of the Detroit Tigers under former team mate Buddy Bell.

He then got the job as manager of the Philadelphia Phillies from 1997-2000, finishing in third place twice. He worked as bench coach in Texas & Oakland before getting the job as the Boston Red Sox skipper in 2004.

In Boston he became a legend & immediate hero, leading the Red Sox to their first World Series Championship since 1918. He led them to another Championship in 2007 and in his six years, led his team to over 95 wins five times. He is the first manager in MLB history to win his first eight World Series games & is 15-2 in playoff elimination games.

In June of 2009 he won his 500th game as Red Sox manager, joining joe Cronin & Mike Higgins. That season the Red Sox finished second winning a wild card berth.

In the Post Season they lost three straight to the Anaheim Angels. The following year he managed his 1000th Red Sox game, becoming the fourth Sox manager to do so. The team finished a disappointing third place, not getting to the playoffs.


In July of 2011, Francona became just the second Red Sox Manager to win 1000 games.  Unfortunately, that September the Red Sox suffered one of the worst collapses in baseball history with a horrid 7-20 record. 

They missed the post season once again & Francona was fired as manager. His dismisal came with bad press, bad gossip of pain pills & a lost club house. At the same time he & his wife divorced after 30 years of marriage. 

He was soon living the happy single life, dating & playing around Boston with much younger chicks. He was be replaced as Manager in Boston by Bobby Valentine who didn't have much success either.


Broadcaster: After getting fired from the Red Sox, Francona was hired by FOX Sports as an analyst for the ALCS filling in for Tim McCarver who needed minor heart surgery. Francona then joined ESPN'S Sunday Night Baseball where he replaced none other than; Bobby Valentine.

In 2013 accepted the position of Manager of the Cleveland Indians. He gladly accepted the job mainly because of his good relationship with President Mark Shapiro & GM Chris Antonetti. He beat out Sandy Alomar Jr. for the job.

Francona brought the Tribe, to the playoffs for the first time in six years, with a 92 win season. The Indians improved with 24 more wins than previous year, earning Francona the AL Manager of the Year Award. The Indians lost to the Tampa Rays in the 2013 AL Wild Card game.

In 2014 the Indians had another good season (85-77) but finished third in the AL Central behind the Tigers & AL Champion Kansas City Royals. In 2015 the Indians finished just above .500 at 81-80, in third place once again.

In 2016 his Indians team won 94 games, going 94-67. Led by veteran slugger Mike Napoli 34 HRs-101 RBIs & Carlos Santana 37 HRs. Jose Ramirez batted .312 & Francisco Lindor batted .301 while Rajai Davis stole 43 bases. The offense was first in the AL in steals & sac flies, second runs scored, doubles & third in hits.

His pitching staff led by Corey Kluber (18-9) had five starters in double figures in wins. Cody Allen saved 32 games in the bullpen. The staff was second on wins, ERA  & first in strike outs.

In the ALDS he swept his old Boston Red Sox team in three straight. In the ALCS he beat the mighty Toronto Blue Jays in five games getting the Indians to their first World Series since 1997. Cleveland has not won a World Series since 1948.

The Indians suffered injuries to their starting staff & won it with clever managing by Francona. He put together make shift starters & relied heavily on his bullpen, especially Andrew Miller who pitched in five post season games, nine innings & did not allow a run. 

In Game #3 Francona had two interesting events happen. First while he was chewing tobacco in the dugout, one of his teeth came out. He fished it out of the wad of tobacco & told a member of his staff to save it & find a dentist to fix it the next day. Then his starting pitcher; Trevor Bauer had blood spewing from his pinkie while on the mound. He had to be taken out of the game & had six relievers pitch out a win. Francona was even seen putting up his middle finger, then rubbing below his eye with it. He said it was not intentional & was just a nasty habit.

In Game 5#, left-hander Ryan Merritt, took the mound in only his second career start. Blue Jays big mouth Jose Bautista tried to intimidate Merrit saying he'll be shaken in his shoes on the mound. Merritt never knew about the words Bautista spewed & retired him twice, while not allowing a hit until the 4th inning.

 In a 17 year managerial career in 2590 games, Francona is 1381-1209 (.533%) through the 2016season. He has made seven post seasons & won two World Series Championships while in Boston, getting to his third Fall Classic with Cleveland.

He is one of 32 managers to win three pennants. In Cleveland he is 352-294 in four seasons, getting over .500 each time.

Personal: Francona suffers from blood circulation issues. He has had a scare with clogged arteries, life-threatening pulmonary embolism & bad knees which led to ongoing treatment for blood clots. He has to wear extra clothes, including two pairs of tights & this is why his regular uniform top was usually hidden by a pullover.

A Young Terry with his dad Tito Francona

No comments: