(WTAM) - John Patsy "Tito" Francona, the father of current Indians manager Terry Francona, has passed away at 84. Tito spent 15-years as a Major League outfielder, including six seasons with the Indians. He continued to be visible in Cleveland, particularly when he threw out the first pitch at his son's first game against the Boston Red Sox in the 2016 American League Division Series.
Tito spent six years with the Indians from 1959-64. In his first year with the Indians in ‘59, the year Terry was born, Tito batted .363 and finished 5th in AL MVP voting. That year he was 34 at-bats shy of qualifying for the batting title. In 1960 he led the AL in doubles and in 1961 he was an AL All-Star and led the league in singles. He made his debut in 1956 with Baltimore, finishing tied for second with Indians Hall of Famer Rocky Colavito for AL Rookie of the Year. He ended his career with Milwaukee in 1970. He was named to the Top 100 greatest Indians Roster in 2001.
According to a statement from the Indians, Francona passed away at his home last night in New Brighton, PA.
“Our hearts ache as truly one of the special men in Cleveland Indians history passed away last night,” said Indians Senior VP of Public Affairs Bob DiBiasio “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.”
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