Brennan-Francona reunion years in the making

September 24th, 2022

This story was excerpted from Mandy Bell's Guardians Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Will Brennan was in bed when his phone rang at 1 a.m. ET on Wednesday morning.

The Guardians’ No. 20 prospect was in Toledo with Triple-A Columbus. They had just wrapped up the first of a six-game set when his manager’s wife’s name popped up on his phone as he was getting ready to sleep. It was Andy Tracy, calling from his spouse's cell.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t have his number saved, so it came up as his wife,” Brennan said. “She obviously pays the phone bill.”

Tracy asked what Brennan was doing. When the 24-year-old responded saying that he was in bed, his skipper said, “That’s good, because you’re gonna go meet the team in Chicago and help them win.”

“I dropped a couple words that I shouldn’t say right now,” Brennan said. “I was just super excited.”

A few moments later, Brennan received a text from his new manager, Terry Francona, that read (in all lower-case letters, as Brennan pointed out): “hey will, congrats. you’ll be starting in right field tomorrow.”

Brennan couldn’t contain his excitement. This was his first time interacting with Francona since the two had a chance to chat during Minor League Spring Training earlier this year. Brennan left a lasting impression on Francona then, considering he told a story about being a young Boston fan at a game in Kansas City and getting Francona’s autograph. Afterwards, a 7- or 8-year-old Brennan asked if Francona could get Dustin Pedroia to sign something for him and apparently Francona had some not-so-nice things to say.

The now-Guardians manager still can’t stop laughing about this memory.

Once a figure on the other side of the fence, Francona is now Brennan’s skipper -- something that was still sinking in for the outfielder up until first pitch.

As soon as he found out about the callup, Brennan picked up the phone and woke up his mom, who started crying when she heard the news. He then called his girlfriend, who was in complete shock, before he woke up his grandparents with another call that resulted in tears.

“A lot of happy emotions going on in our family,” Brennan said.

Fast forward just a few hours later and Brennan smacked an RBI single up the middle for his first big league hit in just his second at-bat. He picked up another single in the seventh and began his night with a flashy sliding play down the right-field line -- all with his family, agent and former college coaches in the stands.

“It is special,” Francona said. “I had to remind myself for a minute, because he got that first hit and I heard some people going crazy and I looked back -- and I never look -- and it had to be his mom and dad. I remember thinking, ‘OK, take a minute here and [appreciate this].’ That’s pretty cool.”