CLEVELAND: With Saturday’s pre-game discussion centered on all things draft related as many at Progressive Field look toward next week’s MLB amateur draft, Indians manager Terry Francona took some time to reminisce about the day his professional baseball dream came true.
It was 1980 and the Montreal Expos tabbed Francona in the first round with the 22nd overall selection while he and his University of Arizona teammates were in Omaha, Neb., playing in the College World Series.
Back then, it was a big deal to sign for $100,000 like Francona did. Of course, back then everything was a lot different about a draft that is now televised and features players who routinely garner million-dollar contracts.
“This is back in 1980, so there’s no Internet, no cellphones,” Francona said. “We weren’t playing that day, so I was sitting in the hotel room with my mom and dad, who’d come to Omaha. But the phone wasn’t ringing and I didn’t exactly know how fast the draft was going. [I was] 21 and there’s a lot of thoughts [going through my head] like, ‘I should’ve signed out of high school’ and all the dumb thoughts. And then the phone rang and it was the Expos.”
All these years later when Francona recalls his draft experience, what sticks out the most was being able to share it all with his parents, Tito and Roberta Francona, after his dad took an early retirement.
“I’ve heard [my dad] say that it was probably the happiest, most fun week of their lives,” said Francona, who went on to be named the CWS Most Outstanding Player as the Wildcats captured the title. “It was cool to share it with them.”
OFF DAY? SCRATCH THAT — Saturday was supposed to be a scheduled day off for Jason Kipnis, who is still in the early stages of his return to the lineup following an abdominal strain that sidelined him for a month. But when the Rockies tagged the Tribe bullpen for four runs in the seventh inning and tied the game 6-6, Francona turned to his second baseman for a little help in the eighth inning.
Kipnis quickly aided the Indians victory with a pinch-hit leadoff walk and soon came around to score the game winner on a Mike Aviles single.
— Stephanie Storm