Welcome to the latest edition of the Red Sox Beat newsletter. This is your stop for the latest on and off the field, from news to exclusive player interviews and insights brought to you by MLB.com club reporter Ian Browne. We dedicated the final regular-season edition to Terry Francona, who is managing the final games of his career this week.
Before he turned into the scooter-wheeling Terry Francona who provided a lot of wins and perhaps even more laughs in Cleveland, the man known as “Tito” throughout the baseball world planted the seeds for his likely Hall of Fame managerial career in the pressure-cooker of Boston.
So as Francona manages the final games of his illustrious 23 years as a manager this week for the Guardians, his legacy will be recalled fondly in every corner of Red Sox Nation.
When Francona was hired by the Red Sox prior to the 2004 season, the Red Sox hadn’t won a World Series in 86 years.
That drought ended, fittingly, in Francona’s first year at the helm. The Sox won it all under Francona again in ’07, sweeping the Rockies in the Fall Classic just as they swept the Cardinals in ’04.
Keep in mind that Francona came to Boston as an unproven manager who finished under .500 in all four seasons he was with the Phillies.
But general manager Theo Epstein did a lot of digging and was convinced that Francona was the right man to guide the club going forward.
When situations intensified, such as when the Red Sox trailed the Yankees, 3-0, heading into Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, Francona was the calmest person in the room.
“He was great on many different levels,” said Kevin Youkilis, who played for the Red Sox all eight years Francona managed the club. “He understood how to get the most out of players but he also knew how to connect with them during the toughest of times.
“It’s easy to connect with players when they’re going good but it’s how he connected with players when they’re going bad that stood out. Good advice, self-deprecation and mixing in the humor part. I think it was just the trust. A lot of times, he just trusted you and believed in you when you’re at your toughest moments. That was the biggest one for me that he was good at that.”