- Aug 18, 2019: Hours before managing his final game at Chase Field, Bruce Bochy took a moment to reminisce on the positive memories he's forged here over the years.
"The last day is usually when it hits me," said Bochy, who received a four-night stay at an all-inclusive resort in Montana from the D-backs. "I’ve had some great times here. I’ll miss coming here."
While the Giants couldn’t complete the sweep after falling to the D-backs, 6-1, in the series finale, Bochy will still be able to remember his final series at Chase Field as a successful one. The Giants took three of four games from Arizona to keep themselves in the National League Wild Card mix, and they will aim to keep that momentum going as they head to Chicago for another big series against the Cubs.
“It was a good series,” Bochy said. “You come in here and take three out of four, hey, you’ve got to feel good about that. They’re a good club. We came in and played well. Give their pitcher credit, he pitched well today.”
|Birth City:||Landes de Boussac, France|
|Draft:||Astros #1-1975 (secondary) - Out of Florida State Univ.|
CLOSE TO DAD AND MOM
- Bochy was born in France while his father, an Army sergeant major, was stationed there at the time. He is the third child of of Rose and Gus Bochy. Bruce remembers his Dad relaxing each night listening to the Armed Forces Radio. Gus couldn't believe his son's arm strength and made him a catcher.
At one point, Bruce's father was a Sgt. Major in the U.S. Army stationed at the Pentagon, so young Bruce spent a portion of his youth living in Bailey's Crossing in Virginia. He played Little League and Babe Ruth baseball in Falls Church, Virginia, and was a member of 1974 league champion Stroube's Mobil in the Clark Griffith League.
Bruce remembers taking in Senators games at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium with his Dad. Bochy was 10 when he watched his first Major League game in Washington.
"It was huge when I was there to be able to come watch the Senators," Bochy said. "And also, to be able to come back (to Washington) and manage in the ballpark where I saw my first Major League game, it's pretty special."
Bochy credited having a Major League team in town when he was young with helping him become involved in baseball and getting him where he is today.
"I've got some great memories of my Dad and I coming here and watching the Senators," Bochy said during a trip to Washington to play the Nationals in July 2006. "Getting to see some of the great players, like Mickey Mantle and those guys. Of course, Ted Williams managed when I was here. What greater inspiration than for a young guy to come see a Major League game, and I actually had that opportunity." (Michael Walsh-MLB.com-6/7/06)
Bruce's father was the son of a West Virginian who worked in the coal mines and died in one. Bochy's mother, Melrose, grew up on a North Carolina tobacco farm, and she met Gus when he was stationed at Fort Bragg. They had four children, Bruce being the third, and the family lived the itinerant military life.
Gus Bochy was military to the core, even the way he talked.
"My Dad was serious," Bruce said. "He was tough. If I was sitting like this, slouching, he would yell at me, 'Stop sitting in that recumbent position.' "
Dinnertime was sacrosanct. The family ate together, on time, a rule that Bruce sometimes flouted, joking he was the "black sheep" of the family.
"He was an adventurous boy," Bruce's only sister, Terry, said from her home in Melbourne, Fla. "He was not one to sit idle at home. He was always out organizing games, sandlot games, whether it was kickball, dodgeball, football, baseball, basketball, horseshoes, darts. He could make a game out of anything, and he would lose track of time. We always ate together as a family, and he was always coming in late."
Terry Bochy said her brother was a "peacemaker and mediator," not unusual for a middle child, and seemed mature beyond his years. She recalled more than one instance from junior high and high school when one of Bruce's friends was struggling and the parents phoned Bruce for advice on straightening him out. (Henry Schulman-SF Chronicle-3/11/07)
His father, Gus Bochy, passed away in 1990. "My Dad was my biggest influence," Bruce says. "He loved baseball. He wasn't a guy who pushed the game, though. But when we did play baseball, he wanted us to play the game right. He had so much respect for it."
- When Bruce was just seven years old and fairly small for his age, he watched and screamed helplessly as his mother was pulled out into the Pacific Ocean by an undercurrent. Bochy's sister, Terry, was the one who came to the rescue. A competitive swimmer, she took hold of her panicked mother and pulled her back against the tide to safety, assisted to shore by United States servicemen stationed in the Panama Canal Zone.
"As a kid, I was real small," Bruce said. "I didn't grow until really the end of my junior year or senior year. You'd be surprised. My high school team, I'm the smallest guy. I'm sitting in the front row of the team picture with black glasses on. You'd think I was the batboy."
- In October 1994, when Bruce first got the idea the Padres would name him as manager, the first person he called was his mother, Melrose, back home in Melbourne, Florida.
Bochy's mother, Rose, had Alzheimer's disease. She was first diagnosed in 1995. On March 23, 2007, Melrose Bochy, Bruce's mother, died at age 78.
Bruce had previously lost his father to a heart attack at age 65.
- It was when his family was in Panama that Bochy developed his real love for the game of baseball. He played it everyday.
His brother, Joe, was a catcher in the Twins' organization from 1969-1974, but advanced only as far as Single-A.
"He was really the reason I got into baseball," Bruce recalls. "The Minnesota Twins drafted him out of high school. That's when I realized that, 'Hey, I can play professional baseball, too.'"
Bruce has always had the largest head in professional baseball: a size eight. "I've only had one helmet since I've been in the pros, and I've had to put seven coats of paint on it 'cause they don't custom-make helmets my size," Bochy said. There was a time, when "Boch" played in the minors, that he crushed a home run—one of the few dingers Bruce produced in his pro career—and amazingly, it was off of future Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan. And his minor league 'mates filled up his incredibly over-sized batting helmet with a six-pack of beer, packed in ice, waiting for him in his locker when he got there after the game.
MOVED TO FLORIDA
As a kid, Bruce was industrious, mowing lawns for money, delivering newspapers, and mopping the floor of a local Chinese restaurant.
In 1971, the Bochys settled into their Melbourne, Florida home, just a couple of miles from the Atlantic Ocean. But they were just a block from the Intracoastal Waterway, where they would fish all the time.
During the summer when Bruce was 18 years old, he had a job refinishing furniture in Melbourne, Florida. He had an accident with a chemical that at the time was used to strip furniture.
"The chemical's been banned now," Bochy says. "But I got some around my eye." It was so serious he was taken to Duke University's medical center. The chemical had damaged his pigment and muscles, leaving him with white eylashes, an eyelid that's a little droopy, and what looks like an albino eye. "I've taken some abuse about it over the years," Bruce says, laughing at some of those memories. "I remember one team I was playing for in the minors. One day, all the guys showed up with little pieces of white tissue on their eyes."
Bruce's wife, the former Kimberly Seib, from Satellite Beach, Florida, was also a student at Brevard Community College in Melbourne, Florida when they first met. They have a modest, 2,100-square foot home in the San Diego suburb of Rancho Penasquitos. They bought the home back in 1984, the year the Padres made their phenomenal World Series run with Bruce as the team's backup catcher.
Bruce and Kim have two sons, Brett (August 26, 1979) and Greg (August 8, 1987).
Bochy loves the thrill of sitting for hour upon hour at the blackjack table, riveted by the action and competitiveness.
"We'll be sitting next to each other at the blackjack table," said Tim Flannery, one of Bochy's coaches with the Padres, "And I'll be throwing out my nickel chips. Then, all of a sudden, he'll throw out two big piles of chips. I'll look at him, and he'll tell me: 'You can't win a war without dropping a bomb!'"
Bruce stopped using smokeless tobacco October 3, 1999. He just went cold-turkey, no patches, gums or pills. He went on an Alaskan hunting trip in part to get away from tobacco. "Kodiak's don't dip," Bochy said of the bears.
- Bruce suffered some minor injuries to his right ankle in a low-speed motorcycle accident near his home in a San Diego suburb, March 29, 2001. "My ankle just rolled over," Bochy said. He was riding an Indian motorcycle with Ryan Klesko.
- Normally, after every baseball season, Bochy goes to Colorado for a deer hunting trip with former teammate Goose Gossage. But Goose sold his ranch in 2003, so the October trip was off.
Bochy's big head probably gets mentioned too much, but here we go again, this time with a story from Trevor Hoffman, one of Bochy's closest friends. The Padres super-closer told this one from Bruce's playing days:
"He was down in the bullpen helping out the catching duties, and they called down and needed him to pinch-hit," Hoffman said, a smile beginning to crease his face, "He starts trucking down the back way through the tunnel in Qualcomm and he never shows up. They're all in the dugout wondering what happened to Bruce. He smoked his head on a beam underneath there and knocked himself out.
"I wasn't there," Hoffman said, "but just to think about his wrecking-ball head going into one of those beams; we're lucky the stadium didn't come down."
Bochy does not get agitated with big-head stories. He gets into the act.
"Tell you what," he said in a deep, gravelly voice that slightly hints at his Southern roots. "Having a big head is a problem. I had one helmet I had to carry with me everywhere, when I was traded or sent down or played winter ball. It probably has 15 coats of paint on it. It was a special-order helmet.
"I couldn't get anyone else's helmet on. One day I snapped and threw it down and broke it. I realized what I did, and it crushed me. It took a couple of weeks to get a new helmet."
Size 8, he said.
"When I played, they'd have accused me of using steroids, as big as my head is." (Henry Schulman-SF Chronicle-3/11/07)
Bruce's sister, Terry, who is 18 months older than Bruce, retired from the U.S. Customs Service to become a full-time caretaker for their Mom, who has had Alzheimer's for more than a decade and no longer recognizes Bruce.
Terry Bochy considers it not a burden, but a calling.
"We were raised in a Christian home, and this is what I felt the Lord called me to do," she said. "It really is an honor for me to care for her. When people commend me for what I'm doing for my mom, it's a testament to the type of mom my mother was. It wasn't hard to give her back what she did for me."
Bruce speaks reverently about his sister.
"Believe me," he said, "I'm hoping to ride her coattails into heaven." (Henry Schulman-SF Chrnoicle-3/11/07)
Bruce tells a story about one frigid night at San Francisco's Candlestick Park in 1984, when he was a catcher for the Padres.
The team's trainer, Dick Dent, played a practical joke and told Bochy he could warm his body by slathering Vaseline all over himself before getting dressed. Bochy did, and found the jelly just made him wet . . . and even colder.
Bochy recalled telling Dent, "If I get pneumonia, you better hope I die, because if I don't I'm going to kill you." (Henry Schulman-SF Chronicle-4/13/07)
Bochy became a grandfather for the second time when son Brett's wife, Lesley, gave birth to Blakely Grace on August 4, 2018. It is Bochy's first granddaughter. (Magruder - mlb.com - 8/5/18)
Dec 12, 2018: Echoing the new front office's desire to leave everything on the table, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said at the 2018 Winter Meetings that he'll be open to using players in non-traditional roles to get the most out of his roster in 2019. That includes a willingness to experiment with openers.
"I think anytime you could get creative to help win a ballgame, you should do it," Bochy said during his 20-minute session with reporters at the Winter Meetings. "I think it's important that you do stay open-minded. There's been some changes in the game, and of course that's one of them, using an opener. That's going to be driven by your personnel, your roster. You see where you're at, and in your mind if you have to do it to give you a better chance to win a ballgame, I'm all for it."
Giants pitchers aren't the only group that could be deployed differently next season, as president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said he's also considering platooning certain position players to create more favorable matchups. Bochy acknowledged that he'll likely have to have conversations with some of his veteran players about their potentially evolving roles.
"You've got to sit down with the players, say, 'Listen, we're going to probably do things a little bit different sometimes,'" Bochy said. "Roles won't quite be as defined, possibly. But that's always been the case in baseball. It's probably a little more common today, especially when you're trying to get more versatility, more flexibility on your roster. You want them to have a heads up, not be surprised by anything. And also just remind them that the best way to get where we want to go is to have an unselfish attitude. Just do whatever you think or what we think is the best way to win a ballgame, and got to get them to buy into this."
Still, Zaidi has made it clear that whatever strategies the Giants choose to pursue will ultimately depend on the composition of their roster in 2019. It's still too early to predict what type of talent the club will have at its disposal come Opening Day, but Bochy is certain he won't be using openers on days Madison Bumgarner is lined up to pitch. While Bochy's old-school style stands in contrast to Zaidi's analytical background, the skipper said their interactions have been positive so far.
"We all know he's very, very bright," Bochy said. "He's got new ideas, he's very creative, very into analytics. But he has deep respect for people in baseball on the scouting side, development side. He's a listener. He's the man in charge, but he wants to hear what you have to say and he respects that. And so I think he keeps a balance, and it's not his way or the highway." (M Guradado - MLB.com - Dec 12, 2018)
Feb 18, 2019: Bruce Bochy followed his gut when he accepted an offer to start managing the Giants ahead of the 2007 season. That same gut feeling is now telling him it's time to start bracing for something new. Bochy, who guided the Giants to three World Series championships in 2010, '12 and '14, announced that he will retire at the end of the 2019 season, capping a celebrated 25-year managerial career in the Majors.
"In my mind, it's time," said Bochy, who is entering his 13th season with the Giants. "It's been an unbelievable ride. There is so much I'm grateful for, with the players, the city, the fans. It's time now." Bochy, who turns 64 in April, informed Giants players of his decision during a team meeting prior to the club's first full-squad workout of the spring. First baseman Brandon Belt said Bochy began to get emotional and didn't spend too much time dwelling on the announcement.
"I think I was a little shocked," Belt said. "He's been around for every single year that I've been here. You think that it might be coming, but it's still a little surprising to hear it coming out of his mouth. We're just going to do what we can to try to make it a memorable last year for him."
Bochy began contemplating retirement at the end of last season and said the decision is of his own volition. He underwent an angioplasty in February 2015 and is recovering from offseason hip-replacement surgery, though he said health was not a factor in his decision. Neither was the Giants' decision to hire Farhan Zaidi as their new president of baseball operations.
"I couldn't be more adamant about that," Bochy said. "This is my decision. It's not something to think about last week. We talked about it at the end of the season. I don't want to burden them with wondering about my situation. I didn't want any distractions. Ever since I moved to San Francisco in 2007, the city and our awesome fans have embraced me. I'm going to miss it, but I'm so grateful for the last 12 years and am looking forward to finishing strong this season."
Giants president and CEO Larry Baer said Zaidi was aware that Bochy was considering retiring when he interviewed for his job in November. Baer said Zaidi will spearhead the search for Bochy's successor after the season ends. Bench coach Hensley Meulens and third-base coach Ron Wotus are among the internal candidates who could be considered for the opening. Bochy will be a strong candidate for the National Baseball Hall of Fame once he completes his career as a manager. He also led the Padres to the NL pennant in 1998 and is one of only 10 managers in history to have won three World Series; the other nine are already enshrined in Cooperstown.
"To me, he's a lock," Baer said. "The city of San Francisco is very proud of him, and as we go through the season we will obviously have tributes. But I think the ultimate tribute will be Cooperstown. To us, it's a no-brainer." (M Guardado - MLB.com - Feb 18, 2019)
April 5, 2019: Bochy: Home opener was 'a day I'll never forget'.
Endings loomed large in the pregame festivities that accompanied the Giants home opener at Oracle Park. Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow read a speech written by the late Peter Magowan, who lost his battle with cancer before he could deliver the discourse himself at his planned induction into the club’s Wall of Fame. An outline of the No. 44 was etched near first base in honor of Hall of Famer Willie McCovey, another Giants luminary who recently passed away. After a tribute video played on the new scoreboard, Brandon Belt walked over to first and lifted the base -- which bore the No. 44 -- out of the dirt to present it to the McCovey family.
Shortly thereafter, the Giants streamed onto the field and formed a crescent around the mound to watch manager Bruce Bochy deliver the ceremonial first pitch. Bochy, who plans to retire at the end of the season, received an extended standing ovation from the sellout crowd before tossing the ball to Pablo Sandoval.
“It was a really special moment,” Bochy said. “I really appreciate what they did. It blew me away, to be honest. It was really overwhelming.”
@BruceBochy, Thank you fans for today. It was something I’ll never forget.
“I think he definitely deserved that,” Belt said. “He deserved to feel how much love that people have for him around here. It’s kind of crazy watching him get emotional like that because he is the leader of this team. He’s led this team through the good times and the bad. To see him get emotional, it chokes you up a little bit.” (M Guardado - MLB.com - April 5, 2019)
June 4, 2019: One would have thought that the Giants won the World Series after they defeated the Mets, 9-3, in 10 innings at Citi Field. There was a reason for the celebration. Bruce won his 1,000 game in a Giants uniform as manager and became the second manager -- with John McGraw as the other -- in franchise history to reach that win plateau.
It has been 13 years since Bruce managed the Padres, but every visit to Petco Park remains a reunion. Familiar faces are around every corner. One visitor to Bochy’s office was the man who gave him his first managerial job. Tom Romenesko, now a D-backs pro scout, was the Padres’ farm director in the 1980s when Bochy transitioned from being a big league catcher to a Triple-A player/coach to a manager at the lowest levels of the Minors.
“I always had a feeling, but I remember when I knew he was going to be a Major League manager,” Romenesko said. “No. 1, he cared about his players. Luis Lopez tore his knee up in Riverside. Who took him to the doctor [in San Diego] the next day? Bruce Bochy. We didn’t have the staff. I was calling up there -- how are we going to get him down here? ‘Oh, I’ll take him,’ Bochy said. That’s when I knew.”
Bochy broke into a grin at the memory, his mischievous wit stirring. “He was my best player!” Bochy said. “I wanted to get him healthy quick.”
Bochy’s Major League playing career ended after the 1987 season. He knew he was just about done and was exploring coaching opportunities. At the same time, Romenesko saw the same career path ahead for him. The Padres offered a player/coach job at Triple-A Las Vegas, a chance to learn the ropes of coaching under manager Steve Smith while also tutoring the pitching prospects and a young catcher named Sandy Alomar Jr.
One problem: Alomar suffered a late-season injury that forced Bochy to play more than planned, 53 games in all. “I went down there to do more coaching than catching,” Bochy said. “Next thing I know, I’m the everyday catcher. This isn’t what I signed up for. It’s 115 degrees. I haven’t really worked out like a player would. I’m throwing batting practice every day. I’m hitting fungos. All of a sudden, I’m behind the plate. … I’m pretty beat up. Those are some long games in the PCL.”
One of the reasons Bochy got beat up was a wild left-hander by the name of Kevin Towers. Romenesko paired Bochy and Towers as manager and pitching coach at Class A Short Season Spokane in 1989. Those two reunited in the big leagues as manager and general manager of the Padres a few years later.
In 2019, Bochy is in his 25th season as a big league manager, and his 13th with San Francisco. On July 3, 2019, he was 37 wins away from 2,000 and, with three World Series titles, has a strong argument for the Hall of Fame. He announced in Spring Training 2019, that this is his final season with the Giants.
Today, it’s fashionable to hire a manager with no experience at the job. But Bochy believes his four years as a Minor League manager were invaluable. “Huge benefit. I’ve always felt that,” Bochy said. “I wasn’t ready to manage in the Major Leagues when I went to Spokane. Dealing with all the different things you deal with. I had a player walk in and say he’s homesick. All the different situations that come up, you learn from it. I needed that experience.” (O'Neill - mlb.com - 7/2/19)
PLAYING CAREER NOTES
Bochy played college baseball at Brevard County Community College in Florida, where he received a scholarship out of Melbourne High School, also in Florida.
- In 1975, he was an honorable mention JUCO All American at Florida State University. Then he signed with the Astros.
Had Eddie Stanky not been a bit of a screwball, Bochy's career might have looked a lot different.
Bochy was a late bloomer in baseball who did not excel until his second year at Brevard Community College in Cocoa Beach, Fla. He was good enough to be picked by the Houston Astros in the first round of the secondary phase of the 1975 amateur draft. He already had signed a letter of intent to play for Stanky, the fiery former Major League infielder and manager, at South Alabama.
"It was a great baseball school. He recruited me," Bochy said. "I was looking forward to playing for him because of his reputation."
Then, Bochy visited campus and watched a baseball practice.
"They had 100 guys out there because they had a no-cut policy," Bochy said. "They all had crew cuts. It looked like an Army team. In the first drill, they were learning how to get hit by a pitch. They had a machine cranked up and they had to lean into it. That's when I said, 'I think I'll go ahead and sign with the Astros.' "
That year, he started dating Brevard classmate Kim Seib. Three years later, when Bochy reached the Majors, they married and began a baseball life.
- His pro playing career started in Covington, Kentucky, a paper mill town.
- Bruce was a second-string catcher during his nine-year career in the Majors. He was with the Astros in 1978-1980, Mets in 1982, and Padres in 1983 through 1987.
- Bruce remembers his Major League debut: July 19, 1978, at Shea Stadium. He was the Astros catcher for righty Mark Lemongello, and he had two hits off Mets pitcher Craig Swan.
- Bochy had a good home run ratio. If he had ever played as a regular, he may have hit as many as 30 dingers in a season. He was a good fastball hitter and handled breaking balls pretty well, especially later in his playing career.
- Like most catchers, Bochy was not a good baserunner. And he was probably on the low end of the scale for both speed and judgment on the bases.
- Bruce was average on defense behind the plate. But he handled a pitching staff well. His arm was adequate.
He played for the Padres during their 1984 NL championship team. He went 1-for-1 as a pinch-hitter in the 1984 World Series, a single off Tigers closer Willie Hernandez.
And he played a key role in the Astros' first NL West championship team in 1980.
- In 1985, Bruce was the catcher the night Pete Rose collected his record-breaking 4,192d hit at Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium.
- "Being a role player, I had a lot of time to watch and observe," Bochy says. "I'd just sort of manage right along with the manager. Sometimes, I would second-guess and wonder how I would do things if I was the manager. I probably got some of that from my Dad (the late Gus Bochy). He never just sat and watched a ballgame. He analyzed a game."
While playing at Las Vegas, Bochy met a teammate who would become instrumental in his career. Kevin Towers, a pitcher, was playing his last season.
"We had a talk one day that maybe he could be the manager and I could be his pitching coach, but nothing like this," Towers, now the Padres GM recalled. "I told him that if anything ever happens to me and I get canned (as GM), I'm going to have that uniform and ball bag ready," Towers said.
- The career leader in home runs by a player born in France? That's none other than Bruce Bochy, with 26.
- Bochy combines excellent people skills with cagey tactics. He makes many moved based on his quck read of both pitchers and hitters. Bruce's mind is extremely quick and insightful.
- He provides an excellent work environment. He understands that the best thing a manager can do for many players is build their confidence in their abilities, especially if they haven't established themselves in the Majors.
- Bruce has a special talent for leadership. Players respect him and like playing for him. They say he provides a work atmosphere they can thrive in.
- He stresses defense and fundamentals—playing the game the right way.
- Bochy is mature and self-confident. He also has a distinct lack of ego—an ingredient all too often missing in people in positions of power.
- Righthander Tim Worrell once said of Bruce, "I love playing for him. With Boch, there will never be a continuous problem. When he has something to say, he says it and gets it over with. When he's mad at you, he's mad at you for a reason and for that reason only. It doesn't carry over to the next day."
Bruce deals with problems head on.
BOCHY'S MANAGING PHILOSOPHY
- Bruce says that Bill Virdon and Dick Williams had the most influence on his managing style. "I demand effort," Bochy says. "Players owe it to themselves and owe it to the fans to play hard. One thing I will not tolerate is a poor effort. We'll be an aggressive club. We'll play hard, and we'll play with intensity."
- Bruce has a good rapport with his players and coaches. He is very knowledgeable and the most important thing is that he has the respect of the players. You have to have that today. Knowledge is important. But if you don't have the respect of the player, you're in trouble.
In a May 1995 game in Colorado, Bochy came storming out of the dugout to argue a play at the plate, but then tripped and fell flat on his face. "I went down like I'd been shot," Bruce recalls. "I barely got my hands in front of me to break the fall. I got up and started to go back out, and I heard the guys behind me laughing. I turned around and gave them one of those stern baseball looks, but they were still laughing. And I started laughing too. It was pretty funny."
The next day, when Bochy arrived at the park, someone had chalk-marked the area where he'd fallen. "I don't know who did it yet," Bruce said, smiling, "But I have some pretty good ideas."
- Tony Gwynn said of Bochy, "The thing I like about him is he knows which guys to pat on the back and which guys to kick in the butt. That's the hardest thing to grasp as a manager, and I think he's done that."
- Bruce says, "I fell in love with managing the first year I did it. You match wits with other managers—that's what drives you."
- Bruce doesn't always go by the book. He bases many of his choices on hunches and instinct.
- He pitches out a lot and is not afraid to walk or pitch around a dangerous hitter in the opposing lineup.
- In 1998, Bochy was brilliant, bringing the depleted Padres to the World Series. There, the team lost to the Yankees in four games. But San Diego was the oldest team in the NL, and suffered through so many aches and pains that they were able to field their Opening Day lineup only 30 times. Yet, Bochy shrewdly manipulated his roster, prevented the Padres from being swept in a series during the entire regular season, and won a franchise-record 98 games.
- There are batboys with bigger egos than Bochy.
- Bochy doesn't just manage games, he manages people. He is a straight-shooter who is eminently fair.
- You never hear Bochy say something negative about any of his players. His communication skills are great.
Bruce and Padres GM Kevin Towers are very good friends and work closely to improve the team's status. They meet virtually every day, Towers usually beating the media to Bochy's office for post-game analysis. They dine together, drink beer together, play golf and cards—even attend movies and Broadway plays with each other. And they also have loud, long arguments when they differ on what is best for the Padres.
"There's pressure, there's tension when things aren't going well," said Bochy. "But there's a trust and a respect there that gets us through. Whenever something's done, even if we don't agree on it, it's done together."
Waylon Jennings, the late country music star, saved a particular refrain for Bruce Bochy.
In the early years of his managerial career Bochy on a few occasions heard from Jennings, one of the celebrities he was fortunate enough to meet. Jennings didn't serenade Bochy, but his reminders struck a chord of sincerity nonetheless.
"Bruce, I sing my songs the way I want to sing them," Jennings said. "You manage your ballclub the way you want to manage it."
Besides deriving a thrill from speaking to Jennings, Bochy also absorbed the message that was conveyed.
"In this job, you know you're going to get critiqued, especially in today's game," Bochy said recently. "You don't want to change who you are."
And Bruce absorbed the message. And Bochy knows exactly who he is.
"In this job, you know you're going to get critiqued, especially in today's game," Bochy said recently. "You don't want to change who you are."
Bochy doesn't feel compelled to emulate flashier managerial counterparts, such as the brash Bobby Valentine, the polysyllabic Joe Maddon or the mercurial Ozzie Guillen. Unless he's in the dugout, Bochy is content to conduct much of his business quietly, even privately.
But don't be fooled by Bochy's avoidance of fanfare or the deliberate cadence of his bass voice, which might seem suggestive of a laid-back observer. For Bochy, managing the way he wants doesn't mean he's an iconoclast or a maverick. An iconoclast doesn't store a quotation in his cell phone from legendary basketball coach John Wooden (another singular figure with whom Bochy crossed paths): "You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one."
Bruce is steady, consistent and confident.
"Boch' is the same guy every day," Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff said. "He doesn't get rattled. He doesn't come in here throwing things. He doesn't yell at you, doesn't embarrass you. He understands how hard this game is. He doesn't let fans or media dictate what he wants to do. He does what he thinks is the best for the team."
Bochy is renowned for his adroit handling of the bullpen. He'll use relievers frequently without tiring them.
He sees every little thing that is going on in a game. If an opposing catcher struggles with a pitcher's warmup throws between innings, for example, Bochy notices that and capitalizes on it by putting baserunners in motion.
Though Bochy is his own man, others helped shape his understated, yet firm managerial style.
One such influence was Bill Virdon, who managed the Houston Astros when Bochy broke into the Majors in 1978.
Bochy outlined his demands upon players in this way: "Play the game hard and play it right. As long as they're giving you all of the effort they have, that's all you can ask."
That mirrored Virdon's approach: "My philosophy basically was, 'When you play, you give it all you've got. Work hard and prepare yourself as much as you possibly can.'"
Virdon, a former center fielder who still serves as a Spring Training instructor with Pittsburgh at age 81, remembered Bochy fondly.
"I have always thought he was one of the best people I ever knew, just as a person," Virdon said of Bochy, his backup catcher for three seasons. "He didn't play a lot, but when he did play, he played well. He gave it all he had, and I could not say a negative thing about him."
Another individual Bochy admired was Bobby Cox, the former Atlanta Braves skipper. Cox's 29-year managerial career ended when Bochy's Giants defeated the Braves in the 2010 NLDS.
Early in Bochy's tenure in San Diego, Cox fortified him with wisdom that echoed something Waylon Jennings might say: Don't listen to radio talk shows.
"Because they're going to second-guess, they're going to question things and it can maybe sway you on how you manage," Bochy said. "I thought it was great advice."
Bochy is going to the Hall of Fame, and you can look it up. Those two World Series championships validated a 20-year managerial career in terms of the ultimate honor. But long before the Giants had those champagne celebrations in 2010 and 2012, Bochy was universally respected for his leadership and communication skills, for his honesty and for running a game—lineups, matchups, balancing the demands of a long season—better than almost anyone.
Bochy and general manager Brian Sabean have done things at such a high level for so long that we at times take them for granted. It's maybe the ultimate compliment that when they do something that raises eyebrows (for instance, giving Tim Lincecum a two-year, $35 million contract), few second-guess them.
In other words, if they did it, it must be the right thing to do, because their track record is so solid.
Still, in a lot of ways, it's how Bochy uses and organizes his bullpen that sets him apart. No one is better. To sit back and watch Bochy work his way through the late innings of a game is a thing of beauty, and plenty of people in the game do just that. It's one thing to get the best from a bullpen. It's another to manage the workload of a seven-month season.
As Tony La Russa famously said, "When you're managing the first half of a season, you're also managing the second half." He meant that overworking players in April and May would come back to a bite a team in August and September. (Justice - mlb.com - 4/17/14)
In his era of analytics, Bochy is the rare manager who is both open to new ideas and, at the same time, decidedly old-school. He counts Jim Leyland and Bobby Cox as role models. He says he manages based on "my feel and my gut."
Before games he spends 15 minutes alone in his office, feet up on his desk, ass in his chair, a lineup card in hand. Starring down at the list of names, Bochy goes inning by inning, envisioning possible scenarios. Which pitchers he might need against which hitters; which bats and which gloves he might rely on off his bench.
He tries to cover, as he puts it, "anything that could go awry." Bruce explains, " If you lose your starter in the first inning, you better have somebody ready, instead of having to shoot from the hip in the dugout and going, 'Oh, s---!"
Finally, just before heading out to the field, Bochy gives himself a pep talk, reminding himself of what's most important.
"That covers everything to me. How we're going to pitch our hitters; position our defenders, our hitters, their game plan. And so, why beat yourself up during the game? Because it's not going to go the way you want all the time, but as long as you've done your job, why are you getting so upset?" (Chris Ballard - Sports Illustrated - 12/15/2014)
- Bochy uses his bullpen more efficiently than any other manager, most folks agree.
POST PLAYING CAREER POSITIONS
- 1988: Bruce was a player-coach at Las Vegas (PCL-Padres). Then Padres' GM Jack McKeon had offered him the position. His primary job that year was to work with a young catching prospect, Sandy Alomar Jr.
1989: His first manager's job was for Spokane (NWL). He led the team to the league title and was named NorthWest League Manager of the Year. He was hooked on managing.
"That first year I got the same feeling I'd always gotten as a player. You get to be competitive. You get that adrenaline flowing. I fell in love with managing right away, and I knew I wanted to manage in the Major Leagues," Bruce says.
- 1990-1992: The Padres promoted him to manager at Riverside (CAL) in 1990, High Desert (CAL) in 1991, and Wichita (TL) in 1992.
1993-1994: Bochy became Padres' third base coach.
PADRES LIKE HIM A LOT
- 1995: He became San Diego's manager, the first former Padres player to manage the club. His contract for 1995 paid him $175,000, with a San Diego option for a second year at $200,000.
- 1996: The Padres gave Bochy a one-year contract extension, good through the 1997 season with a team option for 1998.
- 1996: Bruce was named the National League Manager of the Year.
- 1999: The Padres extened Bochy's contract through the 2000 season.
- 2000: The Padres extended Bruce for another four years, through 2004.
- 2002–2004: In 2002, Bochy made $900,000 as Padres' skipper, $1.4 million in 2003, and had a contract for $1.6 million for the 2004 season.
- June 22, 2005: Bochy was rewarded with a two-year contract extension by the Padres, taking him through the 2007 season.
October 30, 2006: Bruce became manager of the San Francisco Giants, replacing Felipe Alou.
Bochy's contract was for three years, and believed to be worth between $6 million and $7 million.
- October 13, 2009: The Giants extended Bruce through 2011, plus a club option for 2012 (which they picked up early in 2011). The contract also has performance bonuses.
- November 29, 2011: Once again, the Giants extended Bochy through the 2013 season, with a club option for 2014.
- March 28, 2013: The Giants extended Bruce through the 2016 season.
July 24, 2013: Bruce Bochy recorded his 1,500th victory as a Major League manager.
April 3, 2015: The Giants announced that Bochy received a contract extension (as did GM Brian Sabean) through the 2019 season.
- Feb 18, 2019: Bochy announced that he will retire at the end of the 2019 season, capping a celebrated 25-year managerial career in the Majors.
- May 16, 1998: Bruce broke his right big toe when he kicked a dugout wall.
- March 2, 2008: Bochy had arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder, but didn't miss much of spring training.
- February 19, 2015: Bochy underwent a heart procedure to insert two stents and will be hospitalized overnight. The Giants said that the medical staff had been monitoring the manager's heart after he experienced some discomfort following a physical exam.
- August 9, 2016: Bruce, who was hospitalized August 8th with an irregular heartbeat, was released from University of Miami Hospital and managed the Giants' game against the Marlins. Bochy was treated and kept overnight for observation. The issue, he said, was not related to the two stents he had inserted in a heart procedure last February.