Tito Francona, a Former Baseball All-Star, Dies at 84

Tito Francona, a Former Baseball All-Star, Dies at 84


Tito Francona after throwing a ceremonial first pitch before Game 1 of the 2016 American League Division Series in Cleveland between the Indians and the Boston Red Sox. At left is his son, Terry Francona, the Cleveland manager.

Pool photo by Paul Sancya

Tito Francona, a former All-Star who played for 15 seasons in the major leagues and was the father of Terry Francona, the Cleveland Indians’ manager, died on Tuesday night at his home in New Brighton, Pa. He was 84.

The Indians announced his death. Francona played for Cleveland for six seasons.

A left-handed-hitting outfielder and first baseman, Francona batted .363 and finished fifth in voting for the American League Most Valuable Player Award in 1959, his first season with the Indians. He led the league in doubles the next year and in singles in 1961, when he was named an All-Star.


Francona in 2007. He had his best year in 1959, with the Indians.

Mark Duncan/Associated Press

He made his debut in 1956 with the Baltimore Orioles and retired as a player for the Milwaukee Brewers after the 1970 season. He had a career batting average of .272, with 125 home runs and 656 runs batted in.

John Patsy Francona was born on Nov. 4, 1933, in Aliquippa, Pa., on the Ohio border. His father, Carmen, a steelworker, gave him the nickname Tito (“little one” in Italian), according to the Society for American Baseball Research. The family moved to New Brighton when Tito was 10.

Francona was a star quarterback for New Brighton High School and played American Legion baseball. He married Roberta Jackson in 1956 and had two children with her, Terry and Amy. She died in 1992. His second wife, Jean, is among his survivors; a complete list was not available.

In retirement Francona was the parks and recreation director in Beaver County, Pa.

Terry Francona, who has also been called Tito, played 10 years in the majors and managed in Philadelphia and Boston, winning two world championships with the Red Sox, before being named the Cleveland manager in 2012.

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