Terry Francona

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Terry Jon Francona

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Biographical Information[edit]

Terry Francona was a contact hitter who played ten years in the majors. Though he accumulated a solid .274 lifetime batting average, he walked very seldom and concluded his career with a meager 30 percent OBP. As a major league manager, he has won two World Series and took the Cleveland Indians to the final game of the 2016 Fall Classic.

Francona played college baseball for three years at the University of Arizona and won the 1980 Golden Spikes Award. When his team won the College World Series that year, he was named the series' Most Outstanding Player. He was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011.

In the 1978 Amateur World Series, Terry hit .350/.366/.550 as a DH-LF for Team USA, helping them to a Silver Medal. He tied Jae-bak Kim, Mitsugu Kobayashi and Graham Ward for 5th in the Series in hits (15) and tied Jerry Desimone for the most triples (2). Francona then was an All-Star outfielder with Team USA in the 1979 Intercontinental Cup, helping the club win Bronze. He led the 1979 Pan American Games with 13 hits and 3 triples but the US failed to get a medal. He tied Agustin Marquetti and Luis Casanova for the most hits in the event.

Francona was selected by the Montreal Expos in the first round of the 1980 amateur draft and reached the majors in less than two seasons in August of 1981, when he was called up shortly after the strike with the Expos in a playoff race. He played often in the outfield during those first weeks, sharing time with Tim Wallach and Jerry White, although the veteran White got most of the playing time in the postseason. In 1982, after starting the year as a back-up, he became the starting left-fielder in May, when Tim Raines was moved to second base. He hit .327 in a month as a starter then seriously injured his knee on June 16th when he got his spikes caught in the warning track at Busch Stadium. He was out for the remainder of the season, and then hit poorly when he returned in 1983. He was hitting .217 without a homer on September 1st, then caught fire, batting .333 and slugging .550 over the last month.

Francona's performance late in the 1983 season convinced the Expos to let Warren Cromartie leave over the off-season, and when 1984 began, Francona was the starting first baseman, with Pete Rose playing left field. His hot hitting continued, as he was battling for the National League batting title when a second major injury set him back significantly. He was hitting .346 with a league-leading 19 doubles when he twisted his knee trying to avoid a tag by John Tudor on June 14th. Once again, he missed the remainder of the season, but this time, when he came back in 1985, he was no longer the same player. First, his speed was gone, and second, his time of hitting well above .300 was over. Since he never had much power and did not draw many walks, his value as a player became limited, as his .267 average was coupled with an OBP of only .299. At the end of spring training the next year, he was released, finding a job as a back-up with the Chicago Cubs, where he hit .250 in 86 games in 1986.

He was one of the players who replaced Rose as first baseman of the Cincinnati Reds in 1987. However, his rival for the job, Nick Esasky, outhit him by a wide margin - Francona hit .227 - and he was no longer considered a potential starter after that. He played for the Cleveland Indians in 1988 then closed out his major-league career by playing 90 games for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1989 and another three games in 1990. Coincidentally, his father, Tito Francona, had also closed out his major-league career by playing for the Brewers, in their inaugural season of 1970, after having played for Cleveland.

After his playing career ended, Francona coached the GCL White Sox in 1991 and spent four years as a minor league manager in the Chicago White Sox system, including a season as skipper of the Birmingham Barons when Michael Jordan played for the club in 1994. He received good reviews for his deft handling of the media circus around Jordan. In 1996, he was a Detroit Tigers coach.

After a four-year stint as the Philadelphia Phillies manager from 1997 to 2000, when he failed to get the team out of its decade-long rut, he spent a season as a Texas Rangers coach in 2002 and another in the same role with the Oakland Athletics in 2003. He managed Team USA in the 2001 Baseball World Cup.

In 2004, he replaced Grady Little as Boston Red Sox manager, and led them to a World Series title in his first season. The Red Sox swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2004 World Series ending a title drought that dated back to 1918. He returned to the postseason in 2005 then after an off-year in 2006, he brought the Red Sox a division title and a second World Championship in four years in 2007, sweeping the Colorado Rockies in the World Series to give him an 8-0 record in the Fall Classic. The Red Sox also were in the postseason in 2008 and 2009, missing the World Series by one game the first year, when they were defeated by the upstart Tampa Bay Rays in the 2008 ALCS, before losing in the first round the next year. After missing the postseason in 2010, his Red Sox seemed poised to return to the playoffs in 2011. The team would suffer a historic collapse, losing a nine-game lead on the last day of the season to lose the wild card to the Rays. Both the Red Sox loss to the Baltimore Orioles and the Rays' victory over the Yankees came on walk-off hits. Two days later, it was announced Francona would not be returning for the next season.

After spending the 2012 season as an analyst for ESPN, Francona was named the manager of the Cleveland Indians for 2013 on October 6, 2012. He had been with the Indians both as a player and as an assistant to General Manager Mark Shapiro, and his father had played a number of years for the team as well. He got the Indians to play much better than anticipated in the early going, as they had a half-game lead over the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central, with a record of 26-19 going into the game of May 23rd. That day, he made a triumphant return to Fenway Park, getting a standing ovation from the crowd and seeing his charges dump the Red Sox, 12-3. He won kudos for leading the Indians to a playoff berth in his first season at the helm, and managed to keep the team in the running in the AL Central for most of the season before finishing in third place in 2014. After another third-place finish in 2015, he led the Indians all the way to Game 7 of the 2016 World Series before falling to the Chicago Cubs in a thrilling game. During that post-season, he received a lot of kudos for how he used his relievers in an unconventional but very effective manner, countering the loss of two of his top starters (Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar), pushing the Indians further than anyone had anticipated. He was rewarded with his second Manager of the Year Award in recognition of his work. He underwent hip replacement surgery after the season.

In 2017, with the Indians back in first place in the AL Central, he had to miss a few games because of medical issues, being hospitalized twice in June and another time in July because of light-headedness and a rapid heart rate. He was fitted with a heart monitor, although doctors were reassuring that the problem was not overly serious. His bench coach Brad Mills, former manager of the Houston Astros and a teammate both at the University of Arizona and with the Expos, took over during his absences. His second absence, originally scheduled to be for a day or two, extended longer than planned, however. He had to undergo a surgical procedure, forcing him to forego his planned participation in the 2017 All-Star Game as manager of the American League team, an honor he had earned by leading the Indians to the previous year's World Series. Mills replaced him in this function as well. Francona was able to return for the Indians' first game of the second half, on July 14th. He was at the helm when the Indians had a record-setting 22-game winning streak in late August and September. However, the team's hopes of finally ending their title drought were dashed when they were upset by the young New York Yankees in a closely-fought Division Series.

On May 3, 2018, he recorded his 1,500th win as a manager by defeating the Toronto Blue Jays in the second game of a doubleheader. He won his third straight division title with the Indians that season, but once again suffered an early exit from the postseason as Cleveland was swept by the Houston Astros in the Division Series. On April 3, 2019, he signed a two-year contract extension with the Indians, lasting until the end of the 2022 season, which he hinted might be his last as a manager. He had to miss a game on August 1st that year after undergoing emergency eye surgery earlier that day; once again, his trusted lieutenant Brad Mills stepped in in his stead. More health problems came his way in 2020, as gastro-intestinal issues forced him to miss most of the first month of the delayed season. This time, though, Mills was not around to take over for him as he had elected to skip the season due to family issues, and it was coach Sandy Alomar Jr. who filled in. More health issues followed in 2021; he managed the Indians until the end of July, with a record of 50-49, then announced he would be away for the remainder of the season for health reasons; bench coach DeMarlo Hale stepped in to take over the team's reins. He was able to return as amanger of the now Cleveland Guardians in 2022.

The son of Tito Francona, he is often called "Tito" by his players. Grant Jackson played with both Tito and Terry Francona. Terry is a cousin of college coach Rich Pasquale. Due to previous health issues, Francona has difficulty with his circulation and is often cold. Therefore he is always seen with a jacket on even on very hot days. In January 2013, he published an autobiography, co-written with Dan Shaughnessy, which recounted his triumphs with the Red Sox, but also included information on some of the weird happenings behind the scenes of his last couple of seasons in Boston.

Francona's son Nick was a freshman pitcher at the University of Pennsylvania in 2005, but missed 2006 due to injuries. He later joined the U.S. Marine Corps and served as an officer in Afghanistan before returning to baseball to work as a replay coordinator and in player development.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 2-time AL Manager of the Year Award (2013 & 2016)
  • Division Titles: 4 (2007 & 2016-2018)
  • Other post-season appearances: 6 (2004, 2005, 2008, 2009 & 2013 Wild Card; 2020 - 2nd place)
  • AL Pennants: 3 (2004, 2007 & 2016)
  • 100 Wins Seasons as Manager: 1 (2017)
  • Managed two World Series Champions with the Boston Red Sox (2004 & 2007)

Preceded by
Jim Fregosi
Philadelphia Phillies Manager
Succeeded by
Larry Bowa
Preceded by
Grady Little
Boston Red Sox Manager
Succeeded by
Bobby Valentine
Preceded by
Sandy Alomar Jr.
Cleveland Indians Manager
Succeeded by
DeMarlo Hale
Preceded by
DeMarlo Hale
Cleveland Guardians Manager
Succeeded by

Year-By-Year Managerial Record[edit]

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Playoffs Notes
1992 South Bend White Sox Midwest League 73-64 5th Chicago White Sox
1993 Birmingham Barons Southern League 78-64 1st Chicago White Sox League Champs
1994 Birmingham Barons Southern League 65-74 Chicago White Sox
1995 Birmingham Barons Southern League 80-64 3rd Chicago White Sox
1997 Philadelphia Phillies National League 68-94 5th Philadelphia Phillies
1998 Philadelphia Phillies National League 75-87 3rd Philadelphia Phillies
1999 Philadelphia Phillies National League 77-85 3rd Philadelphia Phillies
2000 Philadelphia Phillies National League 65-97 5th Philadelphia Phillies
2004 Boston Red Sox American League 98-64 2nd Boston Red Sox World Series Champs
2005 Boston Red Sox American League 95-67 2nd Boston Red Sox Lost ALDS
2006 Boston Red Sox American League 86-76 3rd Boston Red Sox
2007 Boston Red Sox American League 96-66 1st Boston Red Sox World Series Champs
2008 Boston Red Sox American League 95-67 2nd Boston Red Sox Lost ALCS
2009 Boston Red Sox American League 95-67 2nd Boston Red Sox Lost ALDS
2010 Boston Red Sox American League 89-73 3rd Boston Red Sox
2011 Boston Red Sox American League 90-72 3rd Boston Red Sox
2013 Cleveland Indians American League 92-70 2nd Cleveland Indians Lost Wild Card Game
2014 Cleveland Indians American League 85-77 3rd Cleveland Indians
2015 Cleveland Indians American League 81-80 3rd Cleveland Indians
2016 Cleveland Indians American League 94-67 1st Cleveland Indians Lost World Series
2017 Cleveland Indians American League 102-60 1st Cleveland Indians Lost ALDS includes interim by Brad Mills
2018 Cleveland Indians American League 91-71 1st Cleveland Indians Lost ALDS
2019 Cleveland Indians American League 93-69 2nd Cleveland Indians
2020 Cleveland Indians American League 35-25 2nd Cleveland Indians Lost ALWCS includes interim by Sandy Alomar
2021 Cleveland Indians American League 50-49 -- Cleveland Indians Replaced by DeMarlo Hale on July 29
2022 Cleveland Guardians American League Cleveland Guardians

Further Reading[edit]

  • Jordan Bastian: "Heart procedure sidelines Francona for ASG: Indians bench coach Mills will manage AL team", mlb.com, July 7, 2017. [1]
  • Jason Beck: "Francona wins 2nd MOY Award with Tribe: Indians manager receives 22 of 30 first-place votes", mlb.com, November 15, 2016. [2]
  • Terry Francona and Dan Shaughnessy: Francona: The Red Sox Years, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York, NY, 2013. ISBN 978-0547928173
  • Richard Justice: "Here's hoping Francona has a quick recovery: Indians' manager among the most well-liked and respected men in MLB", mlb.com, July 7, 2017. [3]
  • Bob Nightengale: "Baseball tested Terry Francona's health, but game 'almost killed me when it was taken away'", USA Today Sports, July 20, 2017. [4]
  • Jorge L. Ortiz: "Indians' Terry Francona voted AL manager of the year", USA Today Sports, November 15, 2016. [5]

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