Sports Sportsin partnership with NESN your connection to The Boston Globe

Manager had them seeing red in Philadelphia

If you find that red Majestic pullover -- the soft, comfy fleece the Red Sox manager wears on top of, or in lieu of, his jersey most nights -- annoying, you have Philadelphia to blame.

''In Philadelphia, the worse things got [when I was manager], and this is probably absurd thinking, I thought, 'I don't want to be accepted here,' " Terry Francona said during this season's spring training. ''I used to wear that pullover there, too, and it used to bug people.

''The more it bugged them, the more I'd wear it. I'd be sweating my [butt] off, but I was not going to take it off. Even when I didn't want to wear it, I was wearing it."

The Majestic sales rep loved it.

''He said, 'Don't let them talk you into taking that off,' " Francona said. ''He was really happy."

He was the only one. Francona, who in 1997 at age 37 became the youngest active manager in baseball, was cast off by the Phillies Oct. 1, 2000, after four seasons and a 285-363 record. He knew for weeks, if not months, he stood no chance of returning as manager.

''My mentality didn't mesh there," he said.

He thought ultimately the fans turned on him because he'd never played in Philadelphia.

''I wasn't one of them, and I wasn't comfortable," he said. ''My personality in Philadelphia probably wasn't what they were looking for to begin with. And I wasn't an old Phillie. I think with some of the people in the organization, not being an old Phillie, you're never going to be a Phillie."

Toward the end, Francona was facing merciless fan contempt, to the point he feared physical harm, and behaved accordingly. His parking spot was changed regularly. He stopped parking in the players' lot and moved to a space near the club's offices. In 2001, he revisited Philadelphia to scout a three-game series as a special assistant to then-Indians general manager John Hart.

''There was a security guard right above me [at each game]," Francona said. ''He looked at me and said, '[Phillies president] Dave Montgomery said I have to stand here.' I said, 'You're kidding.' He said, 'What, did you forget?' He stood there for nine innings. It was humiliating."

So, too, was being fired.

''When you're fired, it's really a difficult thing to handle," Francona said. ''I would have fired me, too. I'm not saying somebody screwed up. You feel like you let a lot of people down and yourself. Your self-esteem takes a pounding."

But, Francona said earlier this week, ''Time heals a lot, you move on."

Having managed at Veterans Stadium, he's excited to see Citizens Bank Park, which, along with Milwaukee's Miller Park, are the only two major league venues he hasn't visited. He's excited to sleep in his own bed at his home outside Philadelphia.

When home, he's usually careful about where he goes.

''I don't venture much south of Woodhaven Road [in northeast Philadelphia]," he said. ''Once you get past Woodhaven Road, that's where guys start flipping [me] off a lot. I get into Philadelphia, I start catching hell. Stay up north, I'm OK."

And he won't be eating any cheesesteaks at Geno's, home of the original Philadelphia cheesesteak.

''Oh, my god, have you ever eaten there?" Francona said, recalling a time he used to eat there with his children. ''It's horrible. It's Cheez Whiz, and I've got four kids, and the kids can't make up their minds and the guy's yelling at them . . . "

And to think, Boston seemed like a tough town.

Then, again, it is. But it helps that Francona is 139-94 as Red Sox manager, 150-97 including the postseason.

Nothing extra

There wasn't much fanfare, but the Red Sox set a major league record Tuesday night: They went a 70th consecutive game to begin a season without playing an extra-inning game. ''I really appreciate you bringing it up," Francona said following Tuesday's game. ''Guaranteed tomorrow night." The Sox and Indians went to the ninth Wednesday night tied, 4-4, but Edgar Renteria doubled in Jay Payton for a 5-4 win, making it 71 in a row. The 2002 Chicago White Sox went 69 consecutive games to begin a season without playing more than nine innings. The season record for consecutive games without an extra-inning game is 128, held by the 1936 St. Louis Browns . . . Manny Ramírez is batting .361 (30 for 83) over his last 21 games. Asked by a Cleveland writer what difference he saw in Ramírez's attitude during his early-season slump, Francona said: ''Never noticed one single day. I think that comes with knowing you're going to hit. I don't think there are a lot of guys out there that absolutely know, and he's one of them." . . . With two strikeouts and a walk Wednesday, Mark Bellhorn has now whiffed or walked in 118 of 260 plate appearances this season, or 45 percent of the time . . . Larry Lucchino pledged that the World Series trophy would visit all 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts. That promise is expected to become reality today, when the trophy stops in the state's smallest town: Gosnold. The population, believe it or not, is 86. Gosnold is located in the Elizabeth Islands off the southwestern tip of Cape Cod . . . This weekend's visit to Philadelphia will conclude the Sox' 18-game interleague schedule. They're 9-6 this season vs. the NL, and can do no worse than last season's record of 9-9 . . . With his solo homer Wednesday night, Renteria improved his average to .552 (16 for 29) with 2 HRs and 7 RBIs when the Sox are behind by one run.

Today (free)
Yesterday (free)
Past 30 days
Last 12 months
 Advanced search / Historic Archives