CLEVELAND– John “Tito” Francona passed away Tuesday night at his home in New Brighton, Pa., the Cleveland Indians said on Wednesday. He was 84 years old.
Francona, who spent 15 years in the MLB, played with the Indians for six years. He’s the father of Terry Francona, the Tribe manager since 2013 who occasionally goes by “Tito” too.
“Our hearts ache as truly one of the special men in Cleveland Indians history passed away last night,” said Bob DiBiasio Indians Senior VP of Public Affairs, in a news release.
“On behalf of the entire Indians organization, our thoughts and prayers are with Terry and the entire Francona family. For a generation of Cleveland fans, Tito was one of the all-time favorites to wear an Indians uniform. It was certainly a joy the past five years watching Tito and Terry be together around the ballpark. He will be missed.”
The elder Francona made his big-league debut in 1956 with the Baltimore Orioles, finishing tied for second with Indians Hall of Famer Rocky Colavito for AL Rookie of the Year. He was an All-Star in 1961 and retired in 1970.
Tito was named to the list of top 100 greatest Indians in 2001.
In August, Tito and Terry Francona, launched Tito Francona and Son Pasta Sauce. A part of the proceeds from each sale go to Cleveland Indians Charities.
In lieu of flowers, the Francona family and the Indians are asking for donations in Tito’s memory to Cleveland Indians Charities. That money will go specifically to yourth baseball-oriented programs in Cleveland and in Tito’s hometown, New Brighton, Pennsylvania.