Golf News

Michael Jordan helped former MLB manager Terry Francona’s golf game

1994 Arizona Fall League

NEWPORT, R.I. — It’s hard to imagine many Double-A baseball managers finding desirable tee times so easily.

Terry Francona had a ringer in his Birmingham Barons lineup during one particular summer in 1994. Michael Jordan was in the midst of a brief hiatus from his sensational NBA career with the Chicago Bulls, and golf was a shared passion.

Francona and his new outfielder were frequent playing partners in between those long Southern League bus rides. It’s one of several lifelong connections to the game enjoyed by the two-time World Series champion with the Boston Red Sox.

“I went from playing public courses to really nice country clubs,” Francona said. “There wasn’t a course we didn’t play.

“I remember going to TPC Sawgrass. We were in the car and I was like, ‘MJ, what time is our tee time?’ He’s like, ‘Whatever time we get there.’ ”

1994 Arizona Fall League

Scottsdale Scorpions manager Terry Francona and Michael Jordan at a press conference prior to Jordan’s first game as an outfielder at Tempe Diablo Stadium for the 1994 Arizona Fall League season. (Photo: Tony Tomsic-USA TODAY NETWORK)

Francona was at the Newport Marriott serving as the honorary chair for the upcoming U.S. Senior Open. He planned to play golf in the media outing on Tuesday afternoon at Newport Country Club. That came just one day after teeing it up at the Boston Hearts Classic, the charity event hosted by former Boston slugger David Ortiz.

“I’m an avid, passionate golfer,” Francona said. “I wish I could say that translates into being better — that’s not the case. But I absolutely love it.”

Francona left the Cleveland Guardians at the close of the 2023 season, completing his 23rd year as a manager in the big leagues. His pair of championship rings in 2004 and 2007 cemented his legacy in New England — the first came with the famous Red Sox curse breakers. Francona was an eventual three-time American League Manager of the Year who was just starting his managerial career when he crossed paths with Jordan.

“Everybody knows you hit one good shot and you think you’re good,” Francona said. “Then the next hole brings you back to earth.”

Francona started playing the game as a teenager in Pennsylvania. A standout on the baseball diamond in the spring and summer, he brought home a football permission slip from New Brighton Area High School for his dad, Tito, to sign. It was an autograph the veteran of 15 seasons and 1,719 games declined to give, and it sent his…


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