The city of Cleveland made sure to give longtime Guardians manager Terry Francona a memorable sendoff before his final home game in the dugout.
Francona, who’s widely expected to officially end his 23-year managerial career after Sunday’s season finale in Detroit, was greeted with a moving video tribute from the Guardians before Wednesday’s first pitch. The video touched on the 64-year-old’s longtime ties to the organization and city, beginning when his dad, Tito, played for the then-Indians in the early 1960s.
Words are tough to use to describe the impact you’ve had on our organization, baseball team, culture, and city.
Your impact in the game of baseball goes beyond what we can even begin to extend our gratitude for.
— Cleveland Guardians (@CleGuardians) September 27, 2023
Fans erupted in a long standing ovation at the end of the video, eventually leading to a pair of curtain calls for the beloved skipper.
The end of the pregame video tribute to Terry Francona that led to two curtain calls. pic.twitter.com/RlwQ91l7cG
— Mandy Bell (@MandyBell02) September 27, 2023
Following the Guardians’ 4-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds, Francona’s players blocked the dugout entrance to allow their skipper to receive another, louder ovation from both fans and players.
Cleveland gives Terry Francona one last sendoff pic.twitter.com/r1AAb6Ghkk
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) September 28, 2023
The Guardians handed out T-shirts reading “Thank you Tito” to fans attending Wednesday’s game.
“I was smart enough to pick a place where I believed in the people, and that only grew, and I think anybody who has spent 10 minutes with me knows how much I like it here,” Francona said postgame, according to P.J. Ziegler of Fox 8 Cleveland.
Since Francona arrived in Cleveland 11 years ago, the Guardians have made the playoffs six times and posted losing records only twice. They never finished below third place. His 919 wins entering Wednesday are the most in Cleveland franchise history.
While his Guardians teams never managed to win a World Series, Francona did lead the franchise to the 2016 AL pennant. The following year, his club won 102 games – the franchise’s best record in over 60 years – during a season that included an AL-record 22-game winning streak.
Francona also played 62 games for Cleveland in 1988.
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