"I remember he didn't look like a player," Francona said. "I don't mean that in a bad way, but boy could he hit. And he loved to play. His enthusiasm was infectious. If I could hit that good, I'd be happy, too. But he really liked to play the game."
In parts of eight seasons with Cleveland, Baerga made three American League All-Star teams and earned a pair of Silver Slugger Awards for his work as a second baseman. Overall, Baerga hit .299 with 104 home runs, 190 doubles, 549 runs, 565 RBIs and 1,097 hits in his 941 games with the Tribe.
Between the 1992-94 campaigns, Baerga hit .316 with an average of 20 homers, 31 doubles, 93 runs and 100 RBIs per season.
Over the past couple of years, the 44-year-old Baerga has served as a guest instructor for the Indians during Spring Training, and he has been a regular presence at Progressive Field during the season. Francona said the energy Baerga had during his playing days has carried over into retirement.
"He's unbelievably enthusiastic about whatever he does," Francona said. "I don't think that will ever stop. I know he did some event this spring with my dad [former Indian Tito Francona]. My dad, I think, wants to adopt him. He loves him."
Hart spent several years working in the Indians' front office, serving as the team's general manager from 1991-2001. During his time as the Tribe's GM, the ballclub went 870-681 with six division titles and a pair of appearances in the World Series.
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.