The excitement surrounding the Cleveland Indians this spring has a central focus — new manager Terry Francona.
Since the day Francona was hired on Oct. 6, he has brought a new energy and vibe not seen in the clubhouse in years — if ever. His style is completely different than that of predecessors Eric Wedge and Manny Acta. Wedge and Acta filled the manager’s chair for the past 10 seasons, and Francona has been a breath of fresh air thus far.
Francona is a unique personality and likes to have some fun. While he takes what happens on the field very seriously, he is not afraid to keep things light off the field, often times poking fun at himself.
During his time in Arizona this spring Francona was seen riding his little red motor scooter to and from the complex. The Indians even made a fun video about him and his scooter, and he himself even joked that he will drive it to Progressive Field this season because “his house is closer to the field than the parking lot.”
By now everyone has seen the Indians’ Harlem Shake video, and while all of the players had some funny moments in it and wore some great costumes, it was Francona who stole the show with his dancing.
It is that lighter side to Francona which has appealed to not only the fans and players, but to the Indians Marketing Department as well. He along with new acquisition Nick Swisher has been major spokespeople for the Indians new “brand”.
On Wednesday, the Indians released another fun Francona video to the masses. In the video, Francona acts as a pseudo “Siri” of iPhone fame, answering questions from the likes of Nick Swisher, Jason Kipnis and Vinnie Pestano that range from baseball to relationships to the meaning of life.
The video was an instant hit and went viral as traffic on Indians.com, the TribeVibe blog and social media jumped substantially in the hours after the video was released. Here is some data that the team shared about the video just over three hours after it hit the web:
•The video was viewed nearly 20,000 times on Indians.com
•The video drew nearly 5,000 views on TribeVibe
•The video led to 125 retweets on Twitter and 50-plus favorites
•It was linked by Sports Illustrated, MLB Fan Cave, and others on Twitter
•On Facebook it generated 300 Likes and 120 Shares
“Our research has indicated our fans want to feel more connected to our players.” Indians Vice President of Marketing and Brand Management Alex King said. “We wanted to give our fans a sneak peek into the personalities and camaraderie of the team. The idea for TERRi was generated through our creative process and one that everyone internally was excited about. Stay tuned for what’s next…”
King has led many initiatives into researching and surveying the fans, and based on the results so far and the well-received responses to their efforts, expect more fun videos from Francona and the gang in the coming weeks.