Arizona Baseball

Terry Francona says thank you to Arizona by giving back

UA coach Jay Johnson, left, with Terry Francona at the press conference (YouTube screen shot)

Terry Francona has a special place in the heart of the Arizona Baseball program and, even though both sides failed to put a ring on it in their respective 2016 World Series appearances, their relationship is now at its strongest thanks to Francona’s $1 million donation to the program.

The donation will be used toward the construction of new hitting facilities in the current footprint of the batting cages beyond the right field wall, and it is expected to be completed by this fall.

In his three years at Arizona, Francona became the most decorated player in program history. On and off the field, Arizona gave Francona the foundation for everything he’s accomplished in his baseball career.

“I was given a lot when I was here. I was given my future,” Francona said. “This is my way of saying thank you.”

From the time he left Arizona, Francona had always desired to give back, but the relatively meager salaries he earned as an oft-injured professional ballplayer failed to provide the necessary grounds for a donation.

However, after managing the Boston Red Sox to two World Series titles and then winning the American League with the Cleveland Indians last season, Francona has earned sufficient funds to donate to his alma mater.

“I wanted to do something. I just wanted to help out. For a long time, I always wanted to make enough money where I could do something for other people. It took me awhile. I didn’t do it as a player, but maybe now as a manager, maybe I can,” Francona said.

According to UA, another $1 million gift was given from an anonymous donor in June. Francona took a public approach to his contribution and will enjoy the recognition he receives from the facility sporting the name — the Terry Francona Hitting Facility.

UA coach Jay Johnson wouldn’t want it any other way.

“I can’t think of any other name I’d rather have on that facility,” Johnson said. “You’re talking about a Hall of Fame person. I believe he is a Hall of Fame manager when that time comes. Arguably the best player in the history of this program, and that’s saying a lot.”

Hi Corbett Field is the home for Arizona baseball away from campus. Johnson loves the field and is excited for its improvements.

“We have our own little baseball paradise here,” Johnson said. “To add this hitting facility will only help keep pushing forward. When you put this facility out there, I see it as another motivating factor to help build the player development culture that we want to have.”

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