Terry Jon Francona, nicknamed Tito, is a retired baseball player (1981-1990) and current manager of the Boston Red Sox (2004-). He is under contract with the team through the 2011 season. The Red Sox have won two World Series crowns under his leadership. He is the son of former big league outfielder Tito Francona. He is alleged to be an atheist.
Francona was selected with the 22nd pick of the 1980 Amateur Draft by the Montreal Expos out of the University of Arizona. He made his big league bebut with the Expos during the 1981 season. After five years with the Expos, he spent single seasons with the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians before finishing his career with two years in Milwaukee. Francona hit .274 with 16 home runs and 143 RBI's over his ten year career. He also made one pitching appearance on May 15 of the 1989 season against the Oakland Athletics. Francona pitched a perfect eighth inning by retiring Terry Steinbach and Tony Phillips before striking out Stan Javier on three pitches.
Francona started his managerial career with the Chicago White Sox Single A South Bend team in 1992. The following year he was promoted to manage their Double A Birmingham squad. With the help of players such as Ray Durham, Francona guided the team to the Southern League crown. In 1994, Francona returned for a second season in Birmingham and gained national attention when NBA star Michael Jordan joined the team. Baseball America named him the top managerial prospect at the end of the season. Following a third year in Birmingham and a 296-266 overall minor league record, Francona was hired as third base coach by Detroit Tigers manager Buddy Bell.
The Phillies fired manager Jim Fregosi after a last place finish in 1996. The team offered Francona the chance to interview for the position. Bell advised him that while he was unlikely to get the job, it would be a good learning experience. He was supported for the job by the recently unretired Jordan and was hired in October 1996. Francona's first season was not a good one. Despite solid seasons from Curt Schilling and rookie Scott Rolen the team was only able to win 68 games and finish last in the National League East. They seemed to be heading in the right direction, winning 75 and 77 games in 1998 and 1999 respectively. Unfortunately the success wouldn't last and the Phillies win total dropped to 65 in 2000 and Francona was fired.
Boston Red Sox
Francona spent the 2001 season as a special assistant in the Indians front office. He spent the following two seasons as bench coach with the Texas Rangers and Athletics respectively. The Red Sox were looking for a manager to replace the recently fired Grady Little. The team's front office liked Francona's ability to manage players as well as his willingness to use statistical information when making decisions. He was named their manager in November 2003, beating out Anaheim Angels bench coach Joe Maddon for the job. The team went 98-64 in the first season, taking the wild card over Oakland by a full seven games. Boston finished the year 42-18 after the July 31 trade of team icon Nomar Garciaparra. They started the playoffs by sweeping the Angels in the Divisional Series. The League Championship Series against the New York Yankees got off to a bad start. Team New York rushed off to a 3-0 lead with an embarassing 19-8 victory in Game 3. Despite the long odds team Boston managed to become the first baseball team in history to overcome the deficit and win the series. In the World Series that year they surprisingly were able to sweep a strong St. Louis Cardinals team to capture their first championship in 86 years. In 2005, Francona guided the team to a 95 win season and another wild card. The team was unable to repeat after being beaten by eventual titlists White Sox. Following a year out of the playoffs, they were able to win another World Series title in 2007 by sweeping National League champion Colorado Rockies. 2008 was another strong year, 95-67 to take the wild card, and taking Team Tampa to seven games before falling in the League Championship Series.
- Associated Press. "With Star Support, Francona to Manage Phils"; New York Times, 31 October 1996
- Shaikin, Bill. "Maddon Is Interested in Managing Red Sox"; Los Angeles Times, 29 October 2003
- Madden, Bill. "Hearts are with Francona. Health Tempers Sox Celebration"; New York Daily News, 7 April 2005
- MacMullan, Jackie. "Under constant glare, Francona cool on hot seat"; Boston Globe, 7 October 2004