Tito Francona, who played 15 seasons in the major leagues as an outfielder and was the father of Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona, died Feb. 13 at his home in New Brighton, Pa. He was 84.
The Indians announced his death. The cause was not disclosed.
Mr. Francona had a breakthrough season in 1959, after he was traded to Cleveland from the Detroit Tigers. His .363 batting average was the best in the majors that year, but he did not have enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title.
He also had 20 home runs and 79 runs batted in, and the hard-hitting Indians finished second in the American League to the Chicago White Sox. Mr. Francona was fifth in voting for the league’s Most Valuable Player Award.
Over the next two seasons, Mr. Francona was a steady player for the Indians, leading the league with 36 doubles in 1960 and batting .301 with 85 RBIs in 1961, the only year in which he played in the All-Star Game.
Mr. Francona, a left-handed-hitting outfielder and first baseman, had a well-traveled career during which he played for 10 major league teams. He retired from the Milwaukee Brewers in 1970 with 125 career home runs and a lifetime batting average of .272.
John Patsy Francona was born Nov. 4, 1933, in Aliquippa, Pa., and was given the nickname “Tito,” Italian for “little one.”
He was an outstanding high school quarterback but turned down college scholarship offers to concentrate on baseball. After serving in the Army, he made his major league debut in 1956 with the Baltimore Orioles.
After his retirement from baseball, Mr. Francona led the Beaver County parks and recreation department in Pennsylvania.
His son, Terry Francona, often called “Tito” in honor of his father, played major league baseball for 10 years before becoming a manager. He led the Boston Red Sox to their historic 2004 World Series title — the franchise’s first since 1918 — and to a second championship in 2007.
He has been the Cleveland manager since 2013 and led his team to the AL pennant in 2016. The elder Mr. Francona was a frequent presence around his son’s teams and threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the 2016 AL Division Series in Cleveland.
Mr. Francona’s first wife, the former Roberta Jackson, and the mother of his two children, died in 1992.
In addition to his son, survivors include his wife of 19 years, the former Jean Pasquale of New Brighton; a daughter, Amy Shumaker of Tucson; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
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