USA Baseball taps Francona as coach

By John Manuel
October 1, 2001

USA Baseball’s preparations for the 2001 World Cup in Taiwan continued with the naming of the coaching staff Monday, led by former Phillies manager Terry Francona.

Joining Francona’s coaching staff will be Brad Mills, the former big league third baseman who is now an advance scout for the Cubs; Kirk Champion, the pitching coach for Triple-A Charlotte in the White Sox organization; and Mike Barnett, hitting coach for Triple-A Tucson in the Diamondbacks chain.

Francona, the 1980 Golden Spikes Award winner, is currently working as a special assistant of baseball operations for the Cleveland Indians. His four-year run as manager in Philadephia came to an end in 2000, after he compiled a record of 285-363. He was replaced by Larry Bowa this past offseason.

“I am honored to have been selected to guide our team of American players into the World Cup,” said Francona. “And at a time when our countries’ emotions are running so deep, I’m especially proud to be representing the United States.”

This will be Francona’s first coaching assignment with USA Baseball, but his fourth time wearing the USA uniform. He suited up for Team USA at the 1978 Intercontinental Cup in Italy, the1979 Pan Am Games in Puerto Rico, and for the 1979 USA National Team in Havana, Cuba.

USA Baseball continues the selection process for the 24-man roster for the competition, scheduled for November 6-18. Team USA will use non-40-man roster players already playing in the Arizona Fall League. Seiler said USA Baseball’s mission as a representative of the nation takes on even more meaning in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

“We as an organization at USA Baseball have a responsibility to our country to field the best possible team, in order to hopefully provide our citizens with something that they can be proud of,” Seiler said. “As of right now, we are moving forward with plans to utilize the best professional, non-40-man roster players.

“Obviously, as we get closer to the event, we must continue to monitor the international climate to make sure that it is appropriate that we field a team in this competition.”

Team USA, coming off its historic gold medal victory in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, has not won the World Cup since taking back-to-back titles in 1974 and 1975. Team USA has an overall record in the tournament of 127-64, but finished in ninth place the last time it competed in the event in 1998, fielding a team of college players in a tournament peppered with professionals.

The 34th World Cup will have two eight-team pools, with the U.S. in Pool A with the host nation, the Dominican Republic, France, Italy, Korea, Nicaragua and South Africa. Pool B includes Australia, Canada, Cuba, Japan, The Netherlands, Panama, the Phillipines and Russia.

Cuba has captured nine of the last 10 World Cups played since 1974. The only other country to win one during that time was Korea in 1982, when the Cubans did not participate.

Team USA Pool Play Schedule
November 7
vs Dominican Republic, 6:00 p.m. (Kaohsiung)

November 8
vs South Africa, 12:00 p.m. (Kaohsiung)

November 9
vs Korea, 6:00 p.m. (Chia Yi )

November 10
vs Nicaragua , 6:00 p.m. (Chia Yi)

November 11
vs. Chinese Taipei, 6:00 p.m. (Kaohsiung)

November 12
Off Day

November 13
vs Italy, 6:00 p.m. (Kaohsiung)

November 14
vs France, 12:00 p.m. (Kaohsiung)

November 15
Off Day

Medal Play Schedule
November 16
Quarterfinals (Taipei)

November 17
Semifinals (Taipei)

November 18
Bronze Medal Game, 10:00 am (Tien Mou)
Gold Medal Game, 4:30 p.m. (Tien Mou)