Sports | October 6, 2017 11:48 am

How Terry Francona Beat the Odds to Become One of Baseball’s Greatest Managers

Indians' skipper has sustained injuries, physical and mental, throughout his likely Hall of Fame career.

The road to the top hasn’t been easy for Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona. He’s battled injury his entire career, from his early year as a player to his life as one of the American League’s greatest managers, where he’s had knee and hip replacements, as well as constant, worrying heart problems. Of course, there are also the mental scars like the one he sustained last season, coming within a game of winning the World Series, only to lose in extra-innings to the Chicago Cubs.

Francona did, of course, win a pair of championships with the Boston Red Sox in 2004 and 2007—the first of which was nothing short of historic—but his tenure with the team ended in heartbreak, as he essentially quit after the team’s tremendous flameout in 2011.

As the Washington Post‘s Dave Sheinin argues, Francona’s various trials and tribulations have made him baseball’s “ultimate survivor.” He explains: “The game of baseball is his life. Nobody can imagine him doing anything else. But his friends also can’t help but wonder if baseball—with its attending stresses, travel demands and general daily grind—is destroying his health.”

Francona’s current Indians team won 102 games this season—good for best in the American League—and just took Game 1 in the AL Division Series versus the New York Yankees. He might have one of the strongest pitching staffs of any team in the playoffs and has a better-than-average chance of making a repeat appearance in the World Series.

But does this add up to victory—or just another scar?

As a friend and former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling told the Post, “[Francona’s] goal is to win as many baseball games as possible. He doesn’t care how he does it.”