Francona: Charity is 'one of the more special things that I've ever been a part of'
By William Kosileski
CLEVELAND -- Although Indians manager Terry Francona has been to the World Series three times and won it twice in his managerial career, a recent off-the-field initiative has brought him as much pride as than anything he has ever accomplished on the diamond.
Francona and several members of the American League-champion Indians created the Larry Doby Youth Fund in October with the goal of raising $1 million. That money would be used to give grants to organizations that provide educational assistance and help curb youth violence in Northeast Ohio. The grants were officially handed to the 18 recipients prior to the Indians' game against the Tigers on Saturday.
"It will be a proud moment," Francona said on Friday. "I know I told you last year, but that was one of the more special things that I've ever been a part of, and I know it's not the end-all be-all, but it's a start."
"I couldn't have more respect than I do for [Francona]," said Ronn Richard, the president of the Cleveland Foundation, a charitable organization that helps distribute grants to worthy causes in the city. "It shows what a wondeful human being he is and how much he cares, not just about this wonderful sport, but about the wonderful people in our community that need help. Everyone in the Indians is certainly doing their part."
Before today's game, we recognized the first recipients of the Larry Doby Youth Fund grants.
Donations from a number of players, coaches, staff and the general public, as well as money raised from the 2016 postseason watch parties at Progressive Field helped the Indians' organization reach the $1 million goal. Additionally, significant contributions were made by team vice chairman John Sherman and team chairman and CEO Paul Dolan, who was a part of the committee that reviewed the grant proposals.
"They've been respectful enough to run it by some of the players too, which I really appreciate," Francona said. "I think the way they've done it is, the people that are doing it, Paul [Dolan and others] -- they're way smarter than me and the players. They're also respectful enough to include us. I think it has been a really good way of doing it."
The fund is named after MLB Hall of Famer Larry Doby, the first African American player to play in the American League. It is only fitting that the recipients for the fund were presented with their grants on Jackie Robinson Day. Robinson broke MLB's color barrier on April 15, 1947, just under three months before Dody made his debut with the Indians.
"I can't think of a bad day to do the Larry Doby thing, but the timing is certainly meaningful," Francona said. "In my opinion, this is the most important day we salute, or we honor, of any day of the year."
William Kosileski is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.