09/27 21:19 CDT Francona's beloved scooter stolen, stripped as Cleveland's
manager gets ready to say goodbye to game
Francona's beloved scooter stolen, stripped as Cleveland's manager gets ready
to say goodbye to game
By TOM WITHERS
AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) --- Terry Francona made it to the home finale, his last managing
the Guardians before retirement.
His beloved scooter didn't get there.
Just hours before Cleveland sent off the popular manager, who is leaving
baseball after 11 seasons with the club, with a 4-3 win over Cincinnati,
Francona revealed that the celebrated motorized scooter he rode to and from
Progressive Field for the past several seasons was stolen for the second time.
"The hog has been officially put on ice," Francona said, using the pet nickname
for his ride before Wednesday night's game. "It got stolen again, but this time
they stripped it."
Francona said the two-wheeled vehicle was swiped about 10 days ago. It was
first stolen in January but recovered by Cleveland Police.
"Been in mourning," he said. "They got it in the clubhouse under a blanket.
Looks like they took a baseball bat to it."
The 64-year-old recently hopped on a substitute electric scooter, but the ride
wasn't the same. He veered out of the way to avoid hitting some pedestrians,
caught a pothole on a cobblestone street near his downtown apartment and
"I went over the handlebars," he said, "I mean over. It's amazing how much you
can see of your life in that moment."
Jokes aside, and it was fitting the moments before Francona's finale included
some light-hearted one-liners from him, the last home game in 2023 was a
It's hard for the Guardians and their fans to say goodbye to the longest
tenured and winningest manager in the club's 123-year history --- one of
baseball's all-time characters.
Although he hasn't officially announced his retirement, Francona is expected to
do so formally early next week.
His departure will be a loss for baseball.
"For me, just to be here on his last home game means a lot," said Reds manager
David Bell, who has known Francona for decades. "The thing I know about Tito is
that everyone who has ever worked with him loves him. I'm sure this emotional."
Francona didn't want a special ceremony for his final home game, but he
relented to the team handing out 20,000 red "Thank You Tito" T-shirts.
"The most frustrating part is I can't wear the T-shirt because it's me,"
Francona cracked beforehand. "I mean, it's a nice T-shirt. I love it when we
get free stuff, but I can't wear it."
Shortly before the first pitch, the team paid homage to Francona's run in
Cleveland with a touching video tribute that chronicled his deep connection
with the franchise (his dad, Tito, spent six seasons as an outfielder with the
Indians) as well as his managerial stint.
When it finished, Francona emerged from the dugout and tipped his cap at the
cheering fans. He retreated for a moment before coming back out for a curtain
"I don't remember a lot of it," Francona said after the game. "I was kind of
Francona wasn't sure what kind of emotions he would be feeling as Cleveland
"Probably more uncomfortable than anything," he said. "I know it's a nice
gesture, not dismissing that part of it. My joy is what I do every day and who
I do it with."
Francona, 13th on the wins list with 1,948, has battled serious health issues
in recent years and wants to move on before the game beats him up further.
"It got harder," said Francona, who came to terms with his future in July.
"That's why I'm going to shut it down. ... I'm going to go get my body patched
up again for about the 80th time and I'm going to try to go get healthy and I'm
in no rush."
Francona insisted upon keeping the spotlight on his players during the season's
final month and he spoke with them before the series opener so they weren't
caught off-guard by anything in their final days together.
He's been a beloved figure in Cleveland --- and beyond.
"To be in this game that long and be respected and liked by everyone you have
ever come across is amazing," said Bell, whose father, Buddy, played with
Francona and hired him as a coach. "From a player's standpoint, I would love to
play for Tito and I think most of his players do. To get the most out of your
players but also to be well-liked by so many people, in this game that's
"An incredible career."
Francona's teams were always in the playoff hunt despite having one of
baseball's lowest payrolls. In 2016, the team came within one swing of winning
their first World Series since 1948 before losing in seven games to the Chicago
Before the finale, Francona reflected a bit on his managerial career, which
began in Philadelphia in 1997 and ended after four years with his car's tires
being slashed on fan appreciation day.
Asked what he'd miss most, Francona said "easy answer is the people."
And there's that short ride home.
"It's the greatest setup ever," he said. "I don't know too many places where
after games, the police are either high-fiving or telling you, ?Hey, just hang
in there or cut around this car.' I mean it, it's been nice."
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