BOSTON (CBS) — Terry Francona knew his return to Fenway Park would be an emotional one, and sure enough, it was.
After the first inning of Thursday night’s game between the Indians and Red Sox at Fenway Park, fans were treated to a video of the former Sox currently with the Indians, before the video highlighted some of Francona’s best times with Boston. The manager, who didn’t necessarily want the spotlight on him, waved his appreciation to the crowd and tapped his heart.
“I tried to keep my emotions inside,” Francona said. “When they did that thing after the first inning, I was honored, and I was also thrilled that they showed Cashy [Kevin Cash], Mike Aviles, Matt [Albers], Rich Hill and then Millsy [Brad Mills] standing next to me, who may be my best friend in life. So to share that was pretty awesome.”
With the way Francona’s tenure abruptly and unceremoniously ended following the 2011 season, and with Francona’s book that came out this past offseason, it was surprising to see the former Sox manager talking with Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino prior to the game. Yet Francona seemed to indicate the two have remained in contact with each other.
“There’s an enormous amount of respect,” Francona said of his relationship with Lucchino. “I didn’t like the way things ended, but he went out of his way at the [100th] anniversary to talk to me, and I probably wasn’t the most pleasant. And tonight, he just came down to say hello. I appreciated it.”
Francona stressed that he in no way wanted Thursday night’s game to be about him, and his players did take care of business with a 12-3 blowout victory. Still, he expressed gratitude to the fans for showing their appreciation.
“I appreciate it. It was very heart-felt,” Francona said. “Again, you don’t want to be the main focus. You want to let the players play. But it felt good. I hope they realize that.”