Feb. 14-- John Patsy "Tito" Francona, a former Indians All-Star and the father of current manager Terry Francona, passed away Tuesday night at his home in New Brighton, Pa., the club confirmed on Wednesday. He was 84 years old.
The elder Francona, who went by Tito just as his son often does today, said in 2016 that he tried to watch every Indians game on TV that he could while living in New Brighton. Terry called it a "very special moment" when Tito threw out the first pitch to bench coach Brad Mills prior to Game 1 of the 2016 American League Division Series.
Whenever he was able to make it to the ballpark, Terry would light up, an obvious nod to a strong father-son connection that was in part forged around the game of baseball during Tito's playing days.
"Our hearts ache as truly one of the special men in Cleveland Indians history passed away last night," said Indians senior vice president of public affairs Bob DiBiasio 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."
Francona spent six of his 15 years in the major leagues with the Indians. In 1959, his first year in Cleveland, he finished fifth in Most Valuable Player voting while slashing .363/.414/.566 to go with 20 home runs and 79 RBIs. He was selected as an All-Star two years later, a year in which he finished with a .301 average, 16 home runs, 30 doubles and 85 RBIs.
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