Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Red Sox Hire Francona


On Dec. 4, 2003, the Boston Red Sox hire Terry Francona as manager.
Francona played in the Major Leagues for 10 years for the Montreal Expos from 1981-1985, the Chicago Cubs in 1986, the Cincinnati Reds in 1987, the Cleveland Indians in 1988, and the Milwaukee Brewers in 1989-1990.
Francona wasn’t an All-Star caliber player but he did play the game posting a career .274 batting average with 16 home runs and 143 RBI’s in his career.
After his playing career was over Francona began coaching, spending several years in the Chicago White Sox organization. In 1991, he managed the rookie league Sarasota White Sox of the Gulf Coast League. In 1992, he ran the South Bend White Sox of the mid-level Class A Midwest League. As manager of the AA franchise Birmingham Barons from 1993–1995, he posted a 223-203 record and won two distinctions: Southern League Manager of the Year in 1993, Baseball America's Minor League Manager of the Year in 1993, and top managerial candidate by Baseball America in 1994, the same year Michael Jordan played for Birmingham. Birmingham won the Southern League championship in 1993.
He managed in the Dominican Winter League with the Águilas Cibaeñas, and he also won the championship and the Serie del Caribe in 1994–95. That team included Miguel Tejada, Manny Ramirez, and Tony Batista.

In 1996 he started his Major League coaching career, becoming the third-base coach for the Detroit Tigers, working under their new skipper, Buddy Bell, a former teammate of Francona on the Reds.

fter the season ended, he was hired as manager of the Phillies, who had won the NL pennant in 1993 but then had three consecutive losing seasons.

In Francona's four seasons (1997 through 2000) as the Phillies skipper, the club never rose above third place in the National League East. His best finish with the Phillies was 77–85 in 1999. In 1998 and 1999, the Phillies finished in third place, behind the Atlanta Braves and their division-rival New York Mets.

He was fired following the 2000 campaign, and spent the following season as a special assistant to the general manager with the Cleveland Indians in (2001), which was followed by two one-year terms as a bench coach for the Texas Rangers (2002) and Oakland Athletics (2003).

In 2004, he was finally given the head managerial spot he desired. The Red Sox hired Francona to manage their club in 2004, after Grady Little's contract was not renewed following the Red Sox loss in the 2003 American League Championship Series.
Francona led the Red Sox to a 98–64 record in 2004, the second-best record in the American League behind their biggest nemesis, the New York Yankees. The club jelled in the second half and was the hottest in baseball after the All-Star break.

As the American League wild card, the Red Sox swept the AL West champion Anaheim Angels, three games to none, in the Division Series. In the 2004 American League Championship Series, the Red Sox fell behind the Yankees, three games to none, including a 19–8 loss in Game 3 at home in Fenway Park. However, the club regained its composure and won the last four games of the series, the first time in Major League Baseball history that a team rallied from an 0–3 deficit to win a playoff series (only the third team to even make it as far as Game 6, and the only team to even force a Game 7 after trailing a series three games to zero). The Red Sox swept the St. Louis Cardinals, 4–0, in the 2004 World Series, ending the so-called Curse of the Bambino.

During the 2005 season, Francona was hospitalized after complaining of severe chest pains. Tests revealed significantly clogged arteries, but it was concluded that Francona had not suffered a heart attack. This incident, as well as a life-threatening pulmonary embolism suffered in 2002, ongoing treatment for blood clots, and painful knees, have led to circulation issues which necessitate wearing extra clothes, including two pairs of tights. This is also why his regular uniform top is usually hidden by a pullover.

Two years later, the Sox won the AL East Division, finishing two games ahead of the Yankees. Under Francona's leadership, the Sox swept the Angels in the Division Series before dropping three of the first four games to the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS. The Sox, facing elimination, went on to win their next three games, defeating Cleveland to advance to the 2007 World Series, where they swept the Colorado Rockies in four games. Terry Francona is the only manager in Major League history to win his first eight consecutive World Series games and just the second manager to guide two Red Sox clubs to World Series titles, the other being Bill "Rough" Carrigan who led Boston to back-to-back championships in 1915 and 1916.

As of October 1, 2008, Francona's career regular-season managerial record was 755–703 (.518), while his post-season record was 22–9 (.710). Among managers who have managed at least 20 post-season games, he has the highest winning percentage. Francona is the first manager in MLB history to win his first eight games in the World Series.

Francona was 7–0 in playoff elimination games until Game 5 of the 2005 ALDS, against the Chicago White Sox, when he became 6–1 and 9–0 in ALCS elimination games until Game 7 of the 2008 ALCS, against the Tampa Bay Rays, when he became 9–1.

On June 2, 2009, Francona recorded his 500th win as manager of the Red Sox, making him the third manager in club history to have 500 wins. The only other two to win at least 500 games as manager of the Red Sox are Joe Cronin (1,071), and Mike Higgins (560).

On May 6, 2010, Francona became the fourth person to manage 1,000 games for the Red Sox.

On July 23, 2011, Francona got his 1,000th win as a manager. He became only the second manager in Red Sox history (after Joe Cronin) to accomplish this feat. Later that season, he presided over one of the worst collapses in the history of Major League Baseball when the Red Sox went 7-20 for the month of September and squandered a nine-game lead over the Rays for the AL Wild Card spot in the postseason. Following the season, the Red Sox declined to exercise Francona's 2012 option.

Francona was hired as manager of the Cleveland Indians on October 6, 2012, and officially introduced on October 8. Thus returning to the dugout after a one-year hiatus of managing in baseball and doing sports broadcasting duties. The Indians chose Francona over Sandy Alomar Jr., who served as the club's interim manager for the final six games after Manny Acta was fired on Sept. 27.
Francona and Alomar, who spent the past three seasons as a coach in Cleveland, were the only candidates to interview for the Indians' opening.

Alomar stayed in Cleveland under Francona's staff as bench coach.