EDITOR NOTE: Former Arizona All-American outfielder Terry Francona is managing the Cleveland Indians, who lead the Cubs 3-2 in the World Series with the matchup going back to Cleveland on Tuesday after Chicago’s 3-2 win on Sunday night.
Earlier in my journalism career, I was assigned by the NCAA to write an article on former Arizona baseball coach Jerry Kindall for the 1993 College World Series program followed by another one about Terry Francona in the 1995 program.
Both articles were related to feats accomplished by Kindall and Francona in the CWS. Kindall remains the only player in CWS history to hit for the cycle for Minnesota in 1956. Francona set an NCAA record at the CWS when he got hits in seven consecutive official at bats on June 4 and 5, 1980. Dave Magadan (Alabama, 1983) and Barry Bonds (Arizona State, 1984) surpassed the mark with eight consecutive hits each.
In the Francona article, he talked to me about going 5-for-5 against California a day after he singled in his last two at-bats in a 3-for-6 night against Hawaii. All seven hits were singles. The perfect game at the plate against the Golden Bears was especially impressive because Cal’s pitchers had kept him mostly in check during the regular season.
“I was surprised to get a hit in every at bat against them (in the CWS),” said Francona, an All-American outfielder who batted .371 in his three-year Arizona career. “I couldn’t get a hit off their left-handers all year. I think coach Kindall even sat me once against them during the season.
“I remember just going out there to the College World Series wanting to win but also to have fun. I felt comfortable. It’s a good feeling coming through, helping the team like that in such an important time of the year.”
Kindall kept track of well-hit balls in his scorebook. He tallied 13 in six games of the CWS for Francona.
At one point, in 1997, only two #ArizonaWildcats had their jersey numbers retired: Sean Elliott and Terry Francona. Both wore No. 32 at UA
— Javier Morales (@JavierJMorales) October 31, 2016
“His five hits against California were all well-hit — they were ropes,” Kindall told me. “The game was indicative of the kind of hitter Terry was. He hit to all fields.
“I think well-hit balls show the overall talent of a hitter and Terry had plenty of those. He was a smart hitter, very effective.”
Francona was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player after Arizona’s national title. He won the 1980 Golden Spikes Award, an award given to the best amateur baseball player in the United States.
“I was basically a 20-year-old way in over his head at the College World Series, but I didn’t let any of the outside stuff affect me,” Francona said. “That’s the one week I can point to as the most important in my career. We won the College World Series, I played well and I was drafted (by the Montreal Expos).
“What more could I ask for?”
How about two World Series titles managing the Boston Red Sox in 2004 and 2007 and a potential third ring with the Indians one game away from the title against the Cubs.
These quotes are from parts of the article I wrote for the College World Series program in 1995. This does not include the entire article.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.