Major League Managers with 27 World Series Titles connected to Puerto Rico’s Winter League (Part X)

Nineteen Major League managers who once played or managed in the Puerto Rico Winter League (PRWL) or barnstormed in Puerto Rico led their big league teams to a combined 27 World Series crowns,  from José Méndez, who led the 1924 Kansas City Monarchs to the first Negro World Series (aka 1924 Colored World Series) title, to Bruce Bochy, who managed the San Francisco Giants to 2010, 2012, and 2014 titles, plus the 2023 Texas Rangers to their first World Series title. Part IX covered Charlie Manuel (2008 Philadelphia Phillies). Part X transitions to two skippers with three World Series crowns: Terry Francona (2004 and 2007), and John Farrell (2013). Both played in the PRWL. Francona also played in Venezuela (LVBP) and managed in the Dominican Republic (LIDOM). Alex Cora, the 2018 Boston Red Sox manager, will be in Part XI along with Dave Martínez and Dave Roberts.

Terry Francona Played in the LVBP

Twenty-four-year-old Francona, born in Aberdeen, South Dakota, played in Venezuela on April 22, 1959, for the 1983-84 Zulia Eagles. Rubén Amaro Sr. managed Zulia and pitched extra batting practice to Francona. In a September 2023 article by Joe Noga, at, Francona noted that Amaro Sr. was «All a player could have asked for in a winter ball manager,» adding: «He [Amaro Sr.] took care of everybody. He would throw to you all day if you wanted to hit all day. If you didn’t, we wouldn’t. But I remember going down there a week before the season started, and one year went straight from there to spring training. We stayed down there, got 250 at-bats, and now guys will go for two weeks. I don’t know if I agree with that. I think it’s good to play.»

Francona posted a .314 BA for 1983-84 Zulia, 35 runs scored and 38 RBIs. He had a .333 BA in the semi-finals and continued his clutch hitting versus Lara Cardinals in the finals, scoring four and driving in four, with a .273 BA. He helped Zulia win the February 1984 Caribbean Series (CS) at Hiram Bithorn Stadium, Hato Rey, Puerto Rico. The author attended several games of this «Winter Classic,» won by Zulia (5-1 W-L), over Los Mochis [Mexico] Sugar Cane Growers (4-2), Licey Tigers (1-4), and Mayagüez Indios (1-4). Francona drilled eight hits in 27 AB (.296 BA), three doubles and five RBIs. Table I reflects the 1984 CS All-Star Team.

Table I: 1984 CS All-Star Team

Bobby RamosZuliaC
Terry Francona#Zulia1B
Juan F. RodríguezLos Mochis2B
Aurelio RodríguezLos Mochis3B
Juan BustabadZuliaSS
Jerry WhiteZuliaLF
George BellLiceyCF
Leonel CarriónZuliaRF
Jim CollinsLos MochisDH
Tom CandiottiMayagüezRHP
Ron MeredithZuliaLHP
Rubén Amaro Sr.ZuliaMGR

#MVP. Source: Alfonso Araujo Bohórquez, Series del Caribe, 1949-2001.

The author conversed with Rubén Amaro Sr. before the Sunday, February 5, 1984, contests between Los Mochis and Licey, followed by Zulia versus Mayagüez. Amaro was confident Zulia would win this CS. «My dad is from Havana, Cuba, and my mom is from Mexico,» said Amaro, «I’m managing Venezuela’s Team in Puerto Rico…» Aurelio Rodríguez, Los Mochis third baseman, joined the conversation. Amaro and Aurelio emphasized the pride factor in representing one’s country. In 1992, the author interviewed Manny Mota, Licey’s player-manager in the 1971 CS and their 1984 CS skipper. Mota echoed the pride factor in representing the Dominican Republic. Frank Verdi’s Ponce Lions won the 1972 CS, but his 1984 Mayagüez club fell short. «I almost managed a third PRWL team [Santurce] in the 1985 CS, but San Juan defeated us in the finals…»

In 1986-87 with Zulia, Francona had a .350 BA, two homers, 31 RBIs, and 37 runs, followed by 13 games in 1987-88. In 519 AB with Zulia (three seasons), he connected 167 hits and a .322 BA.                                                                           

Francona in the PRWL

Francona, age 30, made the PRWL All-Star Team, per Table II. His 58 hits tied Ponce teammate Joey Cora for the league’s fourth-best total. The Ponce Lions (31-19) finished first of six teams but faltered in the four-team Round-Robin Tournament, going 3-15. San Juan’s Edgar Martínez led the loop with a .424 BA. Ponce’s Greg Vaughn homered ten times to top Caguas’s Juan González (9), and San Juan’s Héctor Villanueva (8). Trades were common in the PRWL, then. Ponce acquired Roberto Alomar in a pre-season trade with Caguas for Juan González.

Table II: 1989-90 PRWL All-Star Team

Sandy Alomar Jr.PonceC
Terry FranconaPonce1B
Carlos BaergaSan Juan2B
Edgar MartínezSan Juan3B
Joey CoraPonceSS
Juan GonzálezCaguasLF
Henry CottoCaguasCF
Greg VaughnPonceRF
Roy SilverMayagüezDH
Ricky BonesPonceRHP
David RosarioSan JuanLHP
Dan MurphyPonceReliever

Source: Tom Van Hyning, Puerto Rico’s Winter League, McFarland, 1995.

Francona Managed Michael Jordan:1994 Birmingham                                               

Francona managed Michael Jordan with the 1994 Birmingham Barons. Jordan hit .202 in 127 games and fanned 114 times. Francona told WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche: «While Jordan didn’t succeed in that venture, his competitiveness never wavered throughout his struggles.» Francona added: «We saw him get real frustrated one stretch. I think it was a couple of months into the season. [Hitting coach] Mike Barnett and I sat down and talked to him because I felt he was playing for the right reasons. We told him you’ve earned the right to enjoy your work. Not that you like getting outs, but he felt he didn’t want to get in anybody’s way and didn’t want to lose at anything…he embraced the challenge.» Table III includes Francona’s Minor League Managing Record.

Table III: Terry Francona’s Minor League Managing Record

1992South Bend White SoxMidwestAACWS73-64.533
1993Birmingham BaronsSouthern (champions)AACWS78-64.549
1994Birmingham BaronsSouthernAACWS65-74.468
1994Scottsdale ScorpionsArizona Fall LeagueFall 26-25.510
1995Birmingham BaronsSouthernAACWS80-64.556
TotalsTotals (5 Seasons)   322-291.525
1993Post-SeasonSouthernAA 6-2.750

Sources: Stats Crew; Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, Edited by Lloyd Johnson and Miles Wolff, Baseball America, 2007.

Águilas Cibaeñas (AC) Skipper: 1995-96

Felipe Alou alerted Francona that the «competitive LIDOM was close to big-league level and would benefit him [Francona] as a manager.» Francona led AC to a 26-21 mark, second to Escogido’s 34-14. Licey (23-24) finished third; Estrellas Orientales (EO) at 19-29 were fourth; and, Azucareros del Este (17-31), last. AC and EO finished 11-7 in the four-team Round-Robin, before AC won the finals, four games to one. Julio Franco and Gerald Williams were two EO stars but AC’s potent line-up included: Tony Peña (C), Tony Batista (3B), Félix Fermín (SS), Moisés Alou (LF), Stan Javier (CF), and Sherman Obando (RF). DH Luis «The Atomic Ant» Polonia went 14-for-25 in the finals, a .560 BA. AC’s finals slash line was .301/.408/.420, and .828 OPS.

AC (2-4) finished third in the 1996 CS, held in Santo Domingo, February 3-8, behind Mexico’s Culiacán Tomato Growers (5-1 W-L) and Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Wolves (4-2). Magallanes Navigators (1-5) represented Venezuela. It was a big-league-caliber event. Julio Franco reinforced AC. Arecibo had Roberto Alomar, Tony Barron, Iván “Pudge” Rodríguez, Leo Gómez, and Bernie Williams. The author’s 2024 book on CS history will furnish more details. Table IV is the 1996 CS All-Star Team.

Table IV: 1996 CS All-Star Team

Pudge RodríguezAreciboC
Julio FrancoAC1B
Ever MagallanesCuliacán2B
Leo GómezArecibo3B
José VizcaínoACSS
Darryl Brinkley#CuliacánLF
Bernie WilliamsAreciboCF
Antonio AguileraCuliacánRF
Tony BarronAreciboDH
Robinson ChecoACRHP
Yorkis PérezACLHP
Francisco EstradaCuliacánMGR

#MVP. Source: Alfonso Araujo Bohórquez, Series del Caribe, 1949-2001.

MLB Skipper

Francona’s four seasons with the Phillies, 1997-2000, preceded managing Boston, in 2004, to their first World Series Crown in 86 years. Francona led the Red Sox to 2004 and 2007 World Series sweeps over St. Louis and Colorado, respectively. His 2016 Cleveland Indians lost the Fall Classic to the Chicago Cubs, in seven games. He won nearly 54 percent of all MLB regular season games and 56 percent of MLB post-season contests. He was 2-0 in AL-NL All-Star Games, with a 7-5 win in 2005, and 4-3 victory at Yankee Stadium II, on July 15, 2008. That 15-inning contest lasted four hours and fifty minutes. Francona used 20 position players and 12 pitchers. He didn’t manage the AL Squad in the 2017 Mid-Summer Classic. Brad Mills, one of his coaches, did. Table V summarizes his MLB Managing record.

Table V: Terry Francona’s MLB Managing Record

1997 PhiladelphiaNational68-94.420
Totals  1950-1972.538
2004ALDSvs. Anaheim3-01.000
2004ALCSvs. NYY4-3.571
2004World Seriesvs. St. Louis4-01.000
2005ALDSvs. CWS0-3.000
2007ALDSvs. Angels3-01.000
2007ALCSvs. CLE4-3.571
2007World Seriesvs. COL4-01.000
2008ALDSvs. Angels3-1.750
2008ALCSvs. TBR3-4.429
2009ALDSvs. Angels0-3.000
2013ALWCvs. TBR0-1.000
2016ALDSvs. BOS3-01.000
2016ALCSvs. TOR4-1.800
2016World Seriesvs. CHC3-4.429
2017ALDSvs. NYY2-3,400
2018ALDSvs. HOU0-3.000
2020ALWCvs. NYY0-2.000
2022ALWCvs. TBR2-01.000
2022ALDSvs. NYY2-3.400
TotalsAL Post-Season 44-34.564

ALDS: AL Division Series. ALCS: AL Championship Series.

ALWC: AL Wild Card Series. Source: Baseball Reference.

Three Red Sox had excellent hitting seasons between 2004 and 2008, in Francona’s first four years managing Boston: David Ortiz (2006), Dustin Pedroia (2008), and Manny Ramírez (2004), per Table VI.

Table VI: Three Red Sox Flourished under Terry Francona

David Ortiz2006151558115160292541371.287.413.6361.049
Dustin Pedroia#2008157653118213542178320.326.376.493  .869
Manny Ramírez2004152568108175440431302.308.397.6131.009

#2008 AL MVP. Source: Baseball Reference.

John Farrell: Boston’s 2007 Pitching Coach and 2013 Manager

Farrell was Boston’s pitching coach, under Terry Francona, when the Red Sox won the 2007 World Series. They posted the AL’s lowest ERA (3.87). Fast forward to 2013 after Farrell managed Toronto in 2011 and 2012. Farrell and reliever David Carpenter went to the Red Sox for shortstop Mike Avilés, nephew of Ramón Avilés, long-time PRWL second baseman and manager. Bill Nowlin’s SABR bio of Farrell noted the 2013 Red Sox were Boston’s first team in 95 years to win the World Series at home. The 1918 Red Sox, with pitcher/OF Babe Ruth, won Boston’s fourth World Series title of the decade.

Farrell, born in Monmouth Beach, New Jersey, on August 4, 1962, pitched collegiately at Oklahoma State University. Available 1983 and 1984 collegiate pitching stats are: 30 games, 23 starts, eight CG, five SHO, 14-5 W-L, 150.2 innings, 120 hits allowed, 116 strikeouts, 98 walks, a 3.94 ERA, and 1.45 WHIP. His eight big league seasons showed a 36-46 mark, 4.56 ERA, and 1.41 WHIP, with Cleveland, California, and Detroit. Nine minor-league seasons resulted in a 53-71 record, 4.71 ERA, and 1.39 WHIP. His major league debut for Cleveland, came August 18, 1987. Doc Edwards, who managed Caguas (1976-77) and Bayamón (1978-79), was Farrell’s first big league manager with Cleveland.

Mako Oliveras was Farrell’s manager with the 1986-87 San Juan Metros. They finished 25-28, fourth, behind Ponce (34-19), Caguas (31-23), and Mayagüez (26-26). The four-team Round-Robin ended with Caguas (8-4) and Ponce (7-5) advancing to the finals. San Juan (5-7) and Mayagüez (4-8) were eliminated. The Metros best hitter was Dave Martínez (.331 BA and 21 RBIs), a future Washington Nationals skipper. Rafael Palmeiro, a Chicago Cubs prospect, played first base for San Juan. In 35 games, he had a .238 BA, four homers, and 21 RBIs. Farrell’s 1986-87 Metros teammates included lefty Juan Nieves, who later pitched a no-hitter for Milwaukee, against Baltimore, on April 15, 1987. Farrell hired Nieves as Boston’s pitching coach on November 7, 2012.

The 2013 Red Sox had a .277/.349/.446 slash line, and .795 OPS. Their .277 BA was second in the AL. OBP, SLG, and OPS figures led the league. Boston’s 3.79 ERA was the AL’s sixth-best. Ace Jon Lester (15-8, 3.75 ERA) was solid. Clay Buchholz (12-1, 1.74 ERA) gave the team a huge lift. The late-season acquisition of Jake Peavey (4-1, 4.04 ERA) boosted their rotation. Boston’s hurlers posted a 3.03 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in the ALDS versus Tampa Bay; a 3.06 ERA and 1.28 WHIP against Detroit in the ALCS; and, an excellent 1.84 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in outpitching St. Louis in the 2013 Fall Classic. MVP David Ortiz went 11-for-16, with two doubles, two homers, and six RBIs. His slash line was .688/.760/1.188, with a 1.948 OPS. He walked eight times.                

On July 15, 2014, Farrell managed the AL Team to a 5-3 win over the NL Squad. Miguel Cabrera crushed a two-run homer in the first. Max Scherzer won it. Table VII covers Farrell’s seven-year MLB managing record.

Table VII: John Farrell’s MLB Managing Record

Totals  586-548.517
2013ALDSvs. TBR3-1.750
2013ALCSvs. DET4-2.667
2013World Seriesvs. St. Louis4-2.667
2016ALDSvs. CLE0-3.000
2017ALDSvs. HOU1-3.333
TotalsAL Post-Season 12-11.523

Source: Baseball Reference.

With gratitude to Rubén Amaro Sr., Manny Mota, Bill Nowlin, Aurelio Rodríguez, LVBP Historian Luis Rodríguez, Author Luis Rodríguez Mayoral, and Frank Verdi. Jorge Colón Delgado did the editing and photo placements.

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