Terry Francona picked up a few things from Bill Belichick while managing the Boston Red Sox.
Sure, baseball and football are two wildly different sports, but Francona couldn’t help but marvel at the New England Patriots’ success under Belichick and therefore welcomed any advice from Foxboro with open arms during his eight seasons as Boston’s skipper.
“It’s hard to be in Boston for eight years and not to follow the Patriots, or to admire, or to respect what they did and how they did it,” Francona recently told NBC Sports’ Peter King. “I was much closer with (former Patriots front office executive) Scott Pioli, who’d come visit me all the time, and Bill would reach out from time to time. You don’t want to bother them when they’re playing, but the way they did things, their dedication to excellence — it’s still there, it hasn’t gone away. … I’ve asked Scott a thousand questions about Bill just because that’s my avenue into it, and I can’t get enough of it.”
Francona managed the Red Sox from 2004 to 2011, winning two World Series titles, the first of which involved breaking the “Curse of the Bambino” and ending an 86-year championship drought. He’s currently in his seventh season as manager of the Cleveland Indians.
The Boston sports coaching fraternity has continued since Francona left town, with Belichick now occasionally crossing paths with Red Sox manager Alex Cora, Celtics coach Brad Stevens and Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. It’s a rather interesting dynamic, and Francona is appreciative of what he learned from Belichick and the Patriots during his time in Boston, even if not every little detail was applicable to his position or style of coaching.
“The only thing I would say is that you’ve gotta be true to your own personality,” Francona said. “We have vastly different personalities, and you have to know that. Because if you don’t stay to your true personality, players don’t have to be Ivy Leaguers, they’ll see right through it. They know if you’re not being true to yourself. So you’ve gotta be true to yourself. But there’s things that you believe in as a team that you try to never sacrifice.”
Thumbnail photo via Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports Images