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Francona joins ESPN, adding to list of ex-Wildcats on TV

Terry Francona, the college Player of the Year in 1980, can now be seen on ESPN. Photo by Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE

Former Arizona All-American outfielder Terry Francona, fired as the Boston Red Sox manager, will be joining ESPN for next season, joining an impressive cast of ex-Cats in the media world.

Francona’s multiple duties will include joining the crew of Baseball Tonight and working as an analyst for Sunday Night Baseball, essentially switching jobs with Bobby Valentine, who replaced Francona as the Red Sox manager.

Francona, with his mix of humor, storytelling ability and honesty, should be brilliant in his new role.

He joins a few other ex-Cats at ESPN — NFL analysts Tedy Bruschi and Antonio Pierce, and college basketball analyst Miles Simon.

The most visible Wildcat on TV could be Steve Kerr, who made a big name as a five-time NBA champion and the general manager of the Phoenix Suns. He returned last season to the lead NBA analyst role for TNT.

Kerr is also appearing on TNT’s show “Open Court” — a roundtable open-forum discussion with Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber, Steve Smith, Reggie Miller and host Ernie Johnson.

Kerr, in a Q&A with SLAMonline.com, said he remembered a story from his playing days that he wished he had told on the show:

“We did a segment on trash talking. And I had forgotten until after the show that when Michael (Jordan) was playing with the (Washington) Wizards and I was with the (San Antonio) Spurs. It was the last year of my career and his. We ended up matched up with each other in transition in a cross-match. I got the ball isolated with him. I yelled out to my teammates, ‘I got a little one, clear out!’ And Michael started laughing because it was so preposterous. I started laughing and there was a picture in the paper the next day of him guarding me and both of us just cracking up laughing. (Laughs) And that was a really fun moment that the average fan doesn’t hear much about. I actually kicked myself the next day for not recounting the story on the show.”

Other prominent former Wildcats in the media business are Glenn Parker (college football analyst for Versus, which is soon to be rebranded as the NBC Sports Network), Joe Magrane (MLB Network), Sean Elliott (San Antonio Spurs telecasts), Tom Tolbert (sports talk show host with KNBR in the Bay Area) … and UA grad Dan Hicks is one of NBC’s announcing stars.

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