Former Arizona Wildcats All-American outfielder Terry Francona can not only solidify his spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame tonight with a win as Cleveland’s manager, he can add to his legacy among professional champions at his alma mater.
Francona, who starred at Arizona from 1977-80, is already one of 12 Arizona baseball players who have won a World Series title as either a player or manager. His two previous championships were as Boston’s manager in 2004 and 2007. With a victory over the Chicago Cubs tonight in the deciding Game 7 of the World Series, Francona would increase the Wildcats’ number of titles to 13 different seasons.
The previous World Series title won by an Arizona Wildcats player was in 2009 when Shelley Duncan and Mark Melancon were part of the New York Yankees’ roster that defeated Philadelphia in six games.
My research, with help from information in media guides provided by Arizona’s media-relations department, determined that 31 different Arizona Wildcats athletes in the three major sports organizations — MLB, NFL and NBA — have earned championships in their respective sport.
Francona is one of six Arizona Wildcats who have won multiple world championships. He is the school’s only baseball player to achieve that feat. The list with number of titles (factoring only players and head coaches — many assistant coaches who were former Arizona athletes have won titles in all three sports):
6 — Steve Kerr in the NBA, five as a player (with Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs) and one as a head coach (Golden State Warriors)
3 — Tedy Bruschi, three as a player with the New England Patriots
3 — Jud Buechler, three as a player with the Chicago Bulls
2 — Terry Francona, two as a manager with the Boston Red Sox
2 — Theopolis “T” Bell, two as a player with the Pittsburgh Steelers
2 — Luke Walton, two as a player with the Los Angeles Lakers
The following are graphics generated by AllSportsTucson.com listing the Arizona Wildcats players and coaches who have won world titles in the NFL, MLB and NBA:
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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.