Tito Fran­cona, dad of In­di­ans man­ager, dies

The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH) - - SPORTS - By Jeff Schudel jschudel@news-her­ald.com @jsproin­sider on Twit­ter

John Patsy Fran­cona, fa­ther of In­di­ans man­ager Terry Fran­cona, died on Feb. 13 at age 84.

The elder Fran­cona, nick­named “Tito” by his own fa­ther, played for the In­di­ans from 1959 to 1964. He was in his first year with the In­di­ans when Terry was born and bat­ted .363 that sea­son. He was 34 at-bats shy of qual­i­fy­ing for the bat­ting ti­tle and still man­aged to fin­ish fifth in the Amer­i­can League MVP vot­ing.

“Our hearts ache as truly one of the spe­cial men in Cleve­land In­di­ans his­tory passed away last night,” In­di­ans Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent of Public Af­fairs Bob DiBi­a­sio said in a state­ment. “On be­half of the en­tire In­di­ans or­ga­ni­za­tion, our thoughts and prayers are with Terry and the en­tire Fran­cona fam­ily. For a gen­er­a­tion of Cleve­land fans, Tito was one of the all-time fa­vorites to wear an In­di­ans uni­form. It was cer­tainly a joy the past five years watch­ing Tito and Terry be to­gether around the ball­park. He will be missed.”

The real name of the In­di­ans man­ager is Ter­rance Jon Fran­cona, but he is ad­dressed as Tito more of­ten than as Terry

by friends, play­ers and the me­dia be­cause of the af­fec­tion felt for his fa­ther.

Of­ten, the elder Fran­cona would at­tend In­di­ans games and sit on a stool in the club­house hall­way be­fore games and greet play­ers and re­porters. He threw out the first pitch in Terry Fran­cona’s first game as man­ager of the In­di­ans in 2013 and threw out the first pitch in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Red Sox in 2016.

Terry Fran­cona will be away from the In­di­ans the af­ter­noon of Feb. 15 through the morn­ing of Feb. 18.

In 1960, Tito Fran­cona led the AL with 36 dou­bles, and, in 1961, he was an AL All-Star and led the league with 124 sin­gles.

Fran­cona be­gan his ma­jor-league ca­reer in 1956 with Bal­ti­more and tied for sec­ond with In­di­ans Hall of Famer Rocky Colav­ito for AL Rookie of the Year.

Fran­cona ended his ca­reer with Mil­wau­kee in 1970. Af­ter re­tir­ing from base­ball, he was named di­rec­tor of parks and re­cre­ation in New Brighton. He was named to the Top 100 great­est In­di­ans Ros­ter in 2001.

Last sum­mer, the Fran­conas teamed up on a line of Tito Fran­cona and Son Pasta Sauce, which “cel­e­brates Tito and Terry’s love of Ital­ian food and North­east Ohio.”

The In­di­ans an­nounced that in lieu of flow­ers, do­na­tions can be made in Tito Fran­cona’s mem­ory to Cleve­land In­di­ans Char­i­ties (http://mlb.mlb.com/ cle/com­mu­nity/do­na­tion_ form.jsp). Funds will be di­rected to youth base­bal­lo­ri­ented pro­grams in both Cleve­land and Tito’s home­town of New Brighton, Pennsvyl­va­nia.

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