Friday, May 20, 2011
Francona was option for Cubs, White Sox
By Bruce Levine
BOSTON -- Is it possible that Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona could at one point have been the manager of both the White Sox and Cubs?
Both scenarios could have been reality, starting with the Cubs. If general manager Jim Hendry had not hired Dusty Baker before the 2003 season, Francona most likely was his man.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona started managing in the White Sox organization.
“I’ve always thought the world of him,” Hendry said of Francona before Friday’s Cubs-Red Sox matchup. “I had pretty much made up my mind that if we didn’t get Dusty at that time, we were going to do it, though it never got real deep with Terry. But it certainly wasn’t out of a lack of respect. We thought he’d do a great job.”
Hendry did interview Francona before hiring Baker in the fall of 2002.
“He’s done a terrific job [in Boston], Hendry said. “And what some people might take for granted, just because you have great players, doesn’t mean you win in the end. He’s shown the ability to manage great players like Joe Torre did in New York. And it takes talent to do that.”
Francona’s training as a coach and manager came in the White Sox organization , where he was first noticed as Michael Jordan’s manager in Double-A Birmingham in 1994.
“It’s funny how things work out,” Francona said. “I have a lot of fond feelings for Chicago. And I’m very happy where I ended up. [Boston] has been good to me. I caught a break.”
White Sox general manager Kenny Williams was considering hiring either Cito Gaston or Francona in the fall of 2003 before his meeting with Ozzie Guillen in late October.
Francona soon signed on with Boston that same season.
“That was the organization that raised me as a manager,” Francona said of his time with the White Sox. “There’s a lot of loyalty there, working with Jerry Reinsdorf and everybody. I still feel that way about them. They are good people.”
Francona said he knew he was on Hendry’s short list for the Cubs job.
“I’ve heard about that a lot of times, maybe too many times,” Francona said. “But things worked out great for me. They make me look a little smarter than I probably am here in Boston.”
Francona’s Red Sox won World Series titles in 2004 and 2007. The 2004 team was the Red Sox’s first world champion since 1918, when they beat the Cubs in six games.