After initially claiming he would not attend the 100th anniversary celebration of Fenway Park, Terry Francona has changed his mind and will be there.
Francona and the Boston Red Sox had a bit of a rough parting last September and he took a job as an analyst for ESPN. He will call the Red Sox-Yankees game on Sunday night as well.
The 52-year-old Francona led Boston to five playoff appearances in his eight years with the franchise, and guided the Red Sox to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007. The championship in 2004 was the team’s first since 1918.
Overall in his time with the Sox, Francona led them to a record of 744-552, a .574 winning percentage.
Despite those accolades, he had a falling out with the franchise after the team imploded at the end of the 2011 season. Unnamed team sources leaked details of Francona’s marital problems and use of pain killers to the press. In addition to that, team owner John Henry refused to return his calls for months before finally speaking to him in February. Francona was not happy about that, claiming the conversation came “five months too late.
Clearly Francona’s former players believe he should be there. Daniel Bard said, “I think he deserves a standing ovation for what he did. He was such a big part of so many good things that happened here.”
Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury chimed in as well, saying, “I think Red Sox fans and players will give him a good reception. He won two World Series and built a relationship here through the years.”
The ceremony honoring Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary will take place before Friday night’s game against the Yankees.
It wouldn’t have felt a bit empty if Francona had not been in attendance. Bard and Ellsbury are right, he was a big part of those two championships and should be welcomed back with open arms.