The Giants are making the first of three visits to Coors Field this year – a year in which Giants manager Bruce Bochy is making his managerial farewell tour.
When I think of Bochy, I think of that line from Winnie the Pooh
- “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
Bochy’s playing days were in the National League, back before interleague play, and at that time I was covering teams in the American League. When he became a manager, however, I got a chance to meet the man.
Think about this, 1995, the year Coors Field open. Well, that also was the year that Bochy first managed, taking over the job of the San Diego Padres.
Ask him about Coors Field, and he just shakes its head. As successful as he has been, Coors Field hasn’t been kind to him, particularly not in recent years.
The Giants arrived at Coors Field Tuesday having lost 19 of their last 22 games in the ballpark at 20th and Blake. That’s not the kind of success Bochy is used to.
Now, his two managerial stints haven’t been what you would call turn-key operations, but he brought a respect and feeling of accomplishment to the fans, owners and players of both the Padres, where he spent his first 12 managerial seasons, and the Giants, where he is spending his 13th and final season filling out the lineup card for the team that wears orange and black.
Let’s put his managerial success in perspective. In his 12 years with the Padres they advanced to the post-season four times, including one trip to the World Series.
A team created out of the 1969 expansion, the Padres, in their 38 other seasons, have made only one post-season appearance. And, it might be added, that other post-season appearance, which included a trip to the World Series, in 1984, Bruce Bochy was the backup catcher.
He was a flower among the weeds in San Francisco, too. Consider that since the Giants moved from New York to San Francisco in 1958, they have been to the post-season only 10 times. Bochy was the manager in four of them.
And they have won only three world championships – Bochy was the manager all three times – 2010, 2012 and 2014. That 2010 world championship? It was the franchise’s first in 51 years.
There is only one other manager who even won two World Championships with the same team in the 21st century – Terry Francona with the Red Sox in 2004 and 2007.
What remains to be answered is whether the Veterans Committee of the Hall of Fame will fully appreciate what Bochy accomplished, and if he will eventually be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
With the franchises he has managed, even with the championships he took them to, he’s going to wind up with a losing record for his managerial career.
Of the 23 managers enshrined in the Hall of Fame only two had a losing record – Connie Mack and Bucky Harris.
Mack managed 53 years, and was the man in a coat and tie in the dugout, not a uniform. And Harris, at the age of 27, managed the Washington Senators to their only world championship before moving to Minnesota, where the Twins claimed world championships in both 1987 and 1991.
But then so is Bruce Bochy.
He won’t be easily forgotten.
- “Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.” -J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan)