More Than a Manager
Terry Francona shares his hometown pride and helped bring the RNC to Cleveland
By Adam Sockel
When the Cleveland Indians first brought Terry Francona on to manage the ball club, fans were excited. They knew they were getting a proven baseball mind with a championship pedigree. What they may not have realized is that "Tito", as he's known, grew up a lifelong Midwesterner and cares deeply about the city of Cleveland. He lives Downtown and even helped bring the Republican National Convention to Cleveland. We sat down with Tito to get his thoughts on the city and why he loves being here.
Your association with Cleveland goes all the way back to the 1960's with your dad when he played with the Indians. Could you describe your connection with this city?
Cleveland is probably the most familial feeling I can get. My dad played here for six years and it was when I a real young kid and the first place where I was old enough to remember. I have pictures in my office of father-son days and things like that. I grew up an hour and a half from here and my dad still lives there so Cleveland is as close to family as I could ever get.
Given that familial feeling, what was your reaction when you were approached by the Indians to be the manager here?
I think it surprised some people because I remember people calling and saying, "I thought you'd cherry pick." And my response was, "I did!" I'm not the smartest guy but I take a little bit of credit for knowing what was important to me and I wanted to be in a place where the guys I was working with I not only respected, but trusted, and that has only grown.
How do you like to spend your time around Cleveland?
*Well during the season there really is no off time. Even on off days I'll come here at the ball park. I love going to the casino. I think part of the reason why they have new carpet in there because of me. Blackjack is relaxing for me. I wish I won more.
I'll go get a chocolate martini or down to Adega where I live. I don't do much else because I'm at the ballpark all the time and that's by choice. I love being here.
What makes Cleveland such a special place for large events like the Republican National Convention, and why do you think the passion for this city is growing?
When I was asked to speak to the Republican National Committee Selection Committee, I gladly said yes. I have been here long enough to care about the city. I said, I don't know much about politics, but I can tell you I live Downtown and I told them how I felt about Cleveland. I live two blocks from Progressive Field and if I'm walking or on my little scooter, every policeman says hello to me. It's rare when I come across someone who's not friendly, and I like that. Also I think that, a lot like our team, Cleveland has gone through some tough times. I think they're trying to find a way to come through that and fight back. I know getting this Convention will certainly help and I'm glad for the city.