For three years Bruce Bochy was officially retired from baseball. His big league career started
as a backup catcher for the Astros in 1978. It ended after the 2019 season. In those forty-one
years, he played for three teams and managed two. He took both teams he managed to the
World Series, ultimately winning three championships with the Giants.
In 2022 Bruce and his wife Kim were invited to attend a Rolling Stones concert. Watching Mick
Jagger move and perhaps listening to the lyrics of one of the Stones’ most famous songs, Bruce
realized that he “can’t get no satisfaction” from retirement.
After the show he said to Kim, “Jagger is almost 80 years old and he is still working. Why do I
have to stay retired?” At 67 years old, Bruce was ready to get back in the game.
As you know, thanks to a great relationship with a former player of his, president and general manager of the Texas Rangers Chris Young, Bochy is back. At Fan Fest the new manager and I sat before hundreds of Rangers fans to discuss this next chapter.
Bochy confided that Young outlined his vision for completing the rebuilding process. But he admits that he never thought the Rangers would be able to sign five starting pitchers in one off season. By re-signing Martin Perez, acquiring Jake Odorizzi from Atlanta and signing Jacob deGrom, Nathan Eovaldi and Andrew Heaney, the Rangers added 31 years of big league pitching experience to a staff that is full of young talent.
The 1996 National League Manager of the Year knows that veteran pitching is so valuable. Not
only will it help you win now, but those vets can show the young guys what it takes to succeed
at the big league level. He referenced the 2009 season in San Francisco when five-time Cy
Young Award winner Randy Johnson pitched for the Giants. Bochy credits the Big Unit with
showing Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathon Sanchez and even Madison Bumgarner how to
win. The next year in 2010 they did win. Johnson was retired but the Giants beat the Rangers in the World Series.
During a Q&A portion of Fan Fest the new Rangers’ skipper took several trips down memory lane. All the way back to his playing days when one fan asked him to tell us about hitting a walk off home run off Nolan Ryan. When he heard that question he looked at me and asked, “how much time do we have?”
The short version of the story goes like this: Bochy was called on to pinch hit in the10th inning
of a tie game. Nolan had started the game and was still pitching in the 10th. Bochy came to
the plate, got his pitch and hit a walk-off home run. The next day Nolan was throwing a bullpen while Bochy was shagging during batting practice. The two had been teammates in Houston so they knew each other well. When Bruce got to the fence near the bullpen Nolan said, “I got something for you.”
Big Tex then threw a sidearm pitch which finished right at the level where a right-handed batters
head would be. They both laughed but Bruce got the message. The one thing he didn’t mention in retelling that story was that it was the only walk-off home run Nolan ever surrendered.
Back to the future, when asked about a couple of impending rule changes Bochy admitted he doesn’t like the elimination of the shift. He always felt it was incumbent on the hitter to find a way to beat the shift, in other words, as Hall of Famer Wee Willie Keeler once said, “hit it where they ain’t.”
As for the pitch clock, he is all for it. He says he was resistant to the idea but having seen a few
games where it has been used he loves how it quickens the pace of the games and he thinks
that fans will too.
At the end of the session Bruce thanked the fans for the warm welcome and you could almost
hear another lyric from The Rolling Stones, “pleased to meet you, hope you guessed my name.”
Actually a year ago, few would have guessed that a three-time World Series Champion manager would be the next manager of the Texas Rangers. But here he is, his name is Bruce Bochy.