Francona donates $1M to Arizona baseball

The Terry Francona Hitting Facility will begin construction in the summer of 2017

Danielle Fork | The Daily Wildcat

Courtesy UATV / Danielle Fork --Follow Danielle Fork on Twitter.

Terry Francona, current Cleveland Indians manager and Most Outstanding Player from the Arizona Wildcats 1980 College World Series title team, donated $1 million today to the Arizona baseball program to be used for baseball capital projects. Among the projects will be the new Terry Francona Hitting Facility that will be indoors and allow the Wildcats to practice year round.

"Since I moved back to Tucson four years ago, it has been a priority of mine to give back to the University of Arizona," said Francona in a release from Arizona Athletics.  

Francona attributed his career and life to the development he made at UA as a student. He stated that being at the UA gave him the chance to mature and make better choices than the ones he was making as a teenager.

"I always wanted to make enough money where I could do something for other people," Francona said. "It took me a while, I didn't do it as a player. Maybe now as a manager, maybe I can, so it feels good to give back because I was given a lot when I was here, when I was given my future."

Francona had high praise for not only the UA but for the job Arizona head baseball coach Jay Johnson has done in only one season. The Wildcats fell one win shy of a National Championship in last year's College World Series, a similar fate that Francona and his Indians had losing to the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs in seven games.

The donation comes in addition to a $1 million matching gift made by an anonymous donor in June for stadium capital improvements according to Arizona Athletics. The construction of the hitting facility is set to begin this summer with completion expected for the fall. The location of the facility will be beyond the right field wall. The new construction joins projects already underway at Hi-Corbett in the installation of a new backstop, seating replacement of certain sections behind home plate and a renovation to the home clubhouse set to begin following the 2017 season, according to Arizona Athletics.

"I can't think of anybody's name that I'd rather have on that facility than Terry [Francona]," Johnson said. "I mean you're talking about a hall of fame person in everything he does. I believe he's a hall of fame manager when that time comes. Arguably the best player in the history of this program and that is saying a lot with all of the great players these previous players have had come through here. The impact that it's going to have on our player's development, offensive side of the baseball is a big deal to us here."

Johnson believes the improvements that will result from the donations will aid Arizona in catching up to other Pac-12 schools. He also stated that player development is their main strategy and that this addition will improve the program greatly. According to the Arizona Athletics press release, Arizona Athletics receives no state appropriations, but does receive 315 tuition waivers annually, authorized by the Arizona Board of Regents.


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