Saturday, March 26, 2016

Terry Francona Autographed Card

I was watching the Boston Bruins' video tribute to head coach Claude Julien last night, commemorating the fact that he became the team's all-time leader in wins, which is pretty impressive considering the Bs' 92-year history.

In case you missed it:

Sure, hockey personalities (Lindy Ruff, Mike Babcock, Ken Hitchcock - his partners on recent editions of Team Canada) offered their congratulations, but it was nice to also see his counterparts from other sports such as the New England Patriots' Bill Bellichik and the Boston Celtics' Brad Stevens, as well as former Boston Red Sox (and current Cleveland Indians) manager Terry Francona, who inspired me this little walk down memory lane...

You see, before turning to managing, Francona was a decent baseball player in his own right, finishing with a career batting average of .274 in ten seasons. He had originally been a Montréal Expos draft pick (first round, 22nd overall in 1980) and played with the team for five seasons, though I was a tad too young to remember him playing in powder blue. Which didn't stop me from acquiring some of his cards in the early 1990s... because he'd been an Expo. He was also a regular visitor at the infirmary, but he was a good player.

By the end of that decade, he was the Philadelphia Phillies' manager, and he signed this card for me prior to a game:
It's card #374 from Topps' 1986 Topps set (the one with Don Mattingly's rookie card), which is signed in fading blue sharpie. Again, I didn't start collecting baseball cards seriously (as in at least a pack per week) until the following year, so this is a card I bought in a 10-cent commons bin in either 1990 or 1991, in the heyday of my passion for the hobby.

Francona won two World Series managing the Red Sox (2004 and 2007); the Montréal connection remained alive and well both times, as fellow former Expo Pedro Martinez was in the rotation the first time, and Montrealer Éric Gagné was in the bullpen in 2007.

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