CLEVELAND (AP) — Terry Francona won’t be riding off on his beloved scooter after all.
Just hours before his final home game as Cleveland’s manager, Francona revealed that the motorized scooter he has ridden to and from Progressive Field for the past several seasons was stolen for the second time.
“The hog has been officially put on ice,” Francona said before Wednesday night’s game against the Cincinnati Reds. “It got stolen again, but this time they stripped it.”
Francona said the two-wheeled vehicle was taken about 10 days ago. It was stolen in January but recovered by police.
“Been in mourning,” he said. “They got it in the clubhouse under a blanket. Looks like they took a baseball bat to it.”
The 64-year-old rented an electric scooter over the weekend, but the ride wasn’t the same. He hit a pothole and crashed.
“I went over the handlebars,” he said, “I mean over. It’s amazing how much you can see of your life in that moment.”
Jokes aside, and it’s fitting Francona’s finale includes some one-liners, the last home game in 2023 is a bittersweet celebration as the Guardians honor the winningest manager in their club’s 123-year history.
Although he hasn’t officially announced his retirement, Francona is expected to do so formally early next week.
“The worst kept secret ever,” Francona joked Tuesday.
Francona didn’t want a special ceremony for his final home game, but he relented to the team handing out 20,000 “Thank You Tito” T-shirts. There will also be a video tribute to Francona played on the scoreboard shortly before the first pitch.
“The most frustrating part is I can’t wear the T-shirt because it’s me,” Francona joked. “I mean, it’s a nice T-shirt. I love it when we get free stuff, but I can’t wear it.”
Francona has battled serious health issues in recent years and wants to move on before the game beats him up further.
“It got harder,” he said. “That’s why I’m going to shut it down. … I’m going to go get my body patched up again for about the 80th time and I’m going to try to go get healthy and I’m in no rush.”
Francona insisted upon keeping the spotlight on his players during the season’s final month and spoke with them Tuesday so they weren’t caught off-guard by anything in their final days together.
“I just wanted to thank them,” he said. “I told them in spring training, it’s an honor for me to stand up in front of them and go through not just the good, but the difficult, and I wanted everybody in that room to know that I felt like it was an honor of a lifetime to be here for 11 years.”
He’s been a beloved figure in Cleveland.
Francona’s teams were always in the playoff hunt despite having one of baseball’s lowest payrolls. In 2016, the team came within one swing of winning their first World Series since 1948 before losing in seven games to the Chicago Cubs.
Francona said his run in Cleveland was everything he hoped. However, this season felt different for many reasons, and he spoke to team president Chris Antonetti and general manager Mike Chernoff about his future to give them time to begin a search for his successor.
He won’t give input on Cleveland’s next manager.
“I don’t think that’s fair,” he said. “For 11 years I’ve been doing this the way I think is right. I don’t think that’s fair to them or to the next person to try to put my stamp on it. There might be somebody comes in completely 180 degrees different and it might be better. That’s the beauty of our game.”
It won’t be easy to replace Francona, who played 10 seasons before beginning his managerial career with Philadelphia in 1997.
The Guardians will finish their season in Detroit with a three-game series starting Friday.