Francona believed that a deck of cards could get a team through a 162-game season better than any training regimen or motivational program. Spades, hearts, clubs, and jacks kill downtime, engage minds, and teach strategy.
A manager could get a lot of work done in subtle fashion during card games. It was something Francona had learned on those ten hour bus rides when he was managing in the Southern League. In the big leagues, airspace over the heartland was a place where he could talk to a player and make a suggestion or correction without tension or fear of misunderstanding.
…Francona was a master of building relationships at 35,000 feet.
…“It’s amazing what you can tell someone at three in the morning on a plane when you’re playing cards - something you could never say in the dugout during the game,” (Francona said.)…. “You’d end up getting other players chiming in, and it ends up being good,”.
“Francona, the Red Sox Years”- Terry Francona and Dan Shaughnessy