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Indians home opener will be family affair

Terry Francona's father, Tito, will throw ceremonial first pitch

Indians home opener will be family affair

TORONTO -- One of the benefits to taking the managerial job with the Indians for Terry Francona has been sharing the experience with his father. Tito Francona first suited up for Cleveland as a player in 1959, which is the year that his son was born.

More than five decades later, Francona and his dad will share a special moment before the Indians' 4:05 p.m. CT home opener against the Yankees on April 8.

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As part of the pregame festivities for the 20th home opener in Progressive Field history, Tito Francona will throw a ceremonial first pitch to his son. The fathers of Indians players Nick Swisher (Steve), Michael Brantley (Mickey) and Zach McAllister (Steve), as well as bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr.'s dad, Sandy Alomar Sr., will also take part in the first-pitch ceremony.

"I haven't thought about that much yet," Terry Francona said. "We've been so caught up. Opening Day is like half-panic, half-chaotic, there's a lot of halves. More than 100 percent. You're just trying to get into the grind, getting comfortable with everything. So I haven't had a chance to think about it much.

"I hope he has enough left to get it to me. Kidding aside, my dad being a part of this is really special for me."

The father-son moments are part of this season's home opener's "Traditions" theme. The Indians will also have videos and presentations aimed at honoring the long, storied history of the American League franchise. Gates will open at 2 p.m. CT, and the ballclub is encouraging fans to get to their seats by 3:25 p.m. in order to enjoy the festivities.

The Indians also plan on honoring all branches of the Unites States military, with members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard on hand to present the colors. The traditional oversized American flag will be unveiled by employees of Progressive Insurance, which is the presenting partner for the opening series.

During the game, the Indians will celebrate John Adams' 40th year as the team's unofficial drummer and recognize the accomplishments of Tribe great Carlos Baerga, who will be inducted into the Indians Hall of Fame on June 22.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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