CLEVELAND, Ohio — Downtown was buzzing after the Guardians’ wild card Game 1 win Friday against the Rays, and some exuberant revelers made manager Terry Francona’s ride home from the ballpark one to remember.
Francona, perched upon the motorized scooter he affectionately refers to as “the hog,” was captured on video posted to Twitter by cheering fans as he left the Gateway East garage. That’s when things got “a little interesting,” Francona told reporters prior to Saturday’s game.
“Truth be told, in this day and age with like cell phones and stuff, this lady’s yelling at me, and she goes, ‘You’re the greatest!’ And well, she pulls her shirt up, and I’m like, ‘Hey, man, I don’t want … ‘”
Turns out the fan had a picture of Francona on another shirt underneath.
“But I didn’t know that,” Francona said. “I’m like, I don’t want this on camera.”
Lacey Reichert, a teacher from Amherst, responded on Twitter after the video went viral, saying she gave the Guards skipper a heads up that she was not trying to make a scene.
“Yup that was me!!!!!!! 🙋🏼♀️ LOL I warned him and said I’m not flashing you but look…..LOL” — @lreichert23
Francona said he did not want to come across as rude, but he probably did not appear overly graceful at the gesture on video.
“When I got to East 4th, I hope people understand, I had an ice bag wrapped around my ankle,” Francona said. “I’m trying to park and it’s chaotic, but I guess that’s better than nobody being there.”
Asked if he would be following the same route back to his apartment after Saturday’s game, Francona demurred.
“Well, I got to get home,” Francona said.
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When it was pointed out that college football coaches often have state trooper escorts when walking off the field, Francona pointed out that his interactions with local law enforcement when traveling on the hog downtown have always been pleasant.
“Every policeman in town here either high-fives me or says hello,” Francona said. “That’s part of what I like about being here is that you can’t do that anywhere else. Like, I come right out that one-way alley going the wrong way and the cop lifts up the (barrier) so I can get under it. You can’t do that everywhere.”
Francona said the energy of the fans at Friday’s opener was something he will never take for granted. The last time he watched playoff baseball in Cleveland was in his apartment while recovering from medical procedures in 2020.
“I watched those Yankee games from my apartment, it was horrible,” Francona said. “There was a good atmosphere in the ballpark yesterday and I think guys appreciate it. It’s not always been like that, that’s just the reality of it. That’s not to criticize anybody, that’s just the reality of it. It was nice to have that atmosphere.
The one thing Francona was happy to see was the crowds outside the park afterward.
“East 4th was bouncing,” Francona said. “I was glad for those people, because I’ve walked into those restaurants where there’s nobody in there. And they’re all nice people. Good for them. Maybe they’re making some money.”
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