CLEVELAND — Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona is at it again, but this time, he took some friends along for the ride.
For the second time this spring, Francona used a break in the game action to go skydiving, and he did not go alone, as Indians pitching coach Carl Willis and his longtime bench coach Brad Mills joined the manager on a jump.
“If this goes bad, tell Millsie not to screw up the pitching,” Francona said before the jump in a clip posted to the Indians’ Twitter account.
But before making the second attempt, Francona remembered the lesson learned from his first jump.
After jumping without a helmet the first time, Francona went with a full helmet and clear facemask to better shield himself from the resistance. Francona said after the first jump that he thought his “head was going to explode.”
“That was so much better because I didn’t feel like my head was bursting,” Francona said. “Like the freefall was just like, ‘Oh, my God.’”
Much like Francona, Mills seemed to enjoy the experience, even if he went without a helmet on the jump.
“That’s awesome,” Mills told his tandem partner after they landed safely. “It’s probably pretty much what I expected, which was exciting. It was cool. It was quite an experience. That’s awesome, man.”
Francona chose to jump a second time because he enjoyed the first experience so much. In fact, he tried to get a “team-bonding” activity, but apparently, could only get Mills and Willis to agree to join him on the second freefall.
“I didn’t realize it, but when I landed, those guys said I was as high as a kite,” Francona said after the first experience. “Like I was jumping around. I didn’t know I could.
“It’s funny. They put you in this little plane….I’m sitting on a guy’s lap because you have to be strapped on, so for me to get out of the plane was the hardest thing. He was like, ‘Pull your legs up.’ I’m like, ‘They are.’ Then, they open the door and that wind comes. You’re just like, ‘Oh, my God.’
“Then, I got my feet out on the strut and I was okay. I wasn’t panicked, and I started to ask him something about when we were going, and all of a sudden, the plane’s over there. It’s amazing, man, what goes through your mind…all the stupid things you’ve done in your life.”
Now that the jumps have taken place, Francona and the Indians will turn their focus to the start of the 2019 regular season. The Indians kick off pursuit of their fourth straight American League Central Division Championship when they take on the Minnesota Twins at Target Field in Minneapolis starting on Thursday, March 28.