Francona: 'I got lucky as hell'

July, 10, 2010
TORONTO -- Red Sox manager Terry Francona earned his 900th career victory Friday night at Rogers Centre as Boston beat the Blue Jays, 14-3.

The Sox’s dugout don becomes the ninth active manager to reach the milestone, joining Tony LaRussa (2,598), Bobby Cox (2,464), Joe Torre (2,294), Lou Pinella (1,822), Jim Leyland (1,459), Dusty Baker (1,363), Bruce Bochy (1,227) and Mike Scioscia (947).

“There are some pretty good guys who have been doing this for a long time. I don’t think it’s fair for me to elevate myself to their [status],” Francona said. “I don’t think that’s the way you do things. I just try to do the best I can.”

Francona claims he was unaware of his accomplishment, which is his humble way of talking about it.

“I actually didn’t know. It’s just a number. It meant more to me to win [Friday] night because we lost a few in a row. I hadn’t really gave it much thought,” he said.

Francona does remember win No. 1 on April 1, 1997 when he was the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies and they beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-0. Curt Schilling started for the Phillies and earned the win.

“Oh, yeah. Schill beat the Dodgers,” Francona said.

Francona says he never thought he would last as long as he has.

“I’m not like that anyway,” he said. “All the things I say, I actually believe. I still don’t, I just try to do the best I can. I really don’t like missing the moment. I enjoy the journey a lot, even on the tough nights. Not that the tough losses are fun, but I enjoy the competition.”

He began his big league managerial career with the Phillies from 1997-2000 before taking the helm of the Red Sox prior to the 2004 season. He has been a perennial winner in Boston, winning two World Series titles.

“I got lucky as hell. I know that,” he said. “I came into a job with a great organization and great players. I caught a break. I know that. I feel pretty fortunate.”

When he was coming up through the minors as a manager, his philosophy evolved into putting the players first, organization second and his personal needs a distant third.

“You try to take what you’re doing very seriously, but I think you try not to take yourself too seriously. Some guys can get carried away with themselves.”

Joe McDonald

ESPN Staff Writer



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