One day as they were about to tape their daily pregame show a few years ago, Giants manager Bruce Bochy noticed that broadcaster Jon Miller wasn't wearing his new World Series ring."Where is it?" he asked, pointing to Miller's hand.Miller, who'd received the ring as a member of the Giants'
One day as they were about to tape their daily pregame show a few years ago, Giants manager Bruce Bochy noticed that broadcaster Jon Miller wasn't wearing his new World Series ring.
"Where is it?" he asked, pointing to Miller's hand.
Miller, who'd received the ring as a member of the Giants' broadcast team, told the skipper he wore it for a few weeks at the beginning of the season because so many people wanted to see it. And then he put it away.
"To be honest, I feel kind of stupid wearing it," Miller said. "I didn't win any games."
"I didn't win any games, either," Bochy said.
"I'm serious," Bochy said. "I didn't win a single game. Only reason those things worked out was because the guys I brought in did the job. [Reliever Jeremy Affeldt] got out of it, [Sergio] Romo, all those guys. If they don't do that, what did I do?"
This is the kind of thing managers might say publicly all the time, even if most of them don't believe it. In Bochy's case, it was his unwavering mantra for 24 seasons.
This game is about the players, always and forever. Bochy understood this as well as almost anyone. He understood the game was hard. During nine seasons as a player with the Padres, Astros and Mets, Bochy frequently was the guy at the bottom of the roster fighting for a spot.
Bochy had seen the game from every angle: Once he was told that his spot on a roster was guaranteed, and then he was released at the end of camp. Those experiences may have shaped the humility that defined Bochy. Or maybe he simply is made up of the right stuff. Bochy is instantly likable, someone who has never met a stranger.
In a long season, this everyman quality plays well. Bochy's players know he has their back. In return, he expects certain things in terms of effort and preparation.
Bochy also has a presence. He's listed at 6-foot-5, and he is one of those people who commands a room the moment he enters it.
Bochy, 63, announced on Monday that his 25th season as a manager -- his 13th in an absurdly successful run with the Giants -- would be his last. Typical of his nature, he dropped that little bombshell at the end of a morning meeting with his players.
In making the announcement, Bochy is going to give all of us the opportunity to say thanks during a 2019 season that will be something of a victory lap whether he likes it or not.
You'll hear stories about Bochy's toughness and his competitive fire. You'll hear how no one ever managed a bullpen or a clubhouse's smorgasbord of personalities better.
In the moments after one of the most gut-wrenching defeats of his managerial career, Mike Matheny would not leave his dugout until he'd had a chance to catch Bochy's eye and offer a tip of the hat as the Giants celebrated a National League Division Series victory over the Cardinals.
"If you know the kind of man he is, you understand," Matheny said.
During the Giants' run to the first of those three championships, in 2010, Bochy made the kind of move managers seldom make: He benched two of his highest-paid players -- Aaron Rowand and Pablo Sandoval -- down the stretch. If decisions like that don't work out, Bochy is torched. He understood this. Bochy's players also understood he simply was steering the team down what he saw as the best avenue to win.
So when Rowand came off the bench and made a huge game-saving defensive play in the postseason, Bochy said, "That's the kind of pro he is. He kept himself ready to play."
Never once did Bochy allow the conversation to be about him. When someone criticized him for how he lined up his rotation for the 2014 World Series, he never responded. To do that would have cast blame someplace else. In the end, Bochy got just what he wanted, that is, his ace, Madison Bumgarner, on the mound for the final five innings of Game 7.
Bumgarner had pitched a complete-game shutout in Game 5 three days earlier and had told Bochy he could give him an inning or two in Game 7 if needed.
When asked how Bumgarner could go five, Bochy said, "I don't know. I never made eye contact with him. When he came off the field, I went up the tunnel to avoid him."
That'll be a good story to tell when Bochy is inducted into the Hall of Fame. There are only 23 managers in the Hall at the moment, and through the years, Bochy waved off any mention of Cooperstown.
Or maybe Bochy will tell the story of his first spring with the Astros, when star right-hander J.R. Richard was throwing batting practice.
Richard threw hard and didn't know where the ball was going at times. So much so that veterans were reluctant to step into the cage against him. One of them, third baseman Enos Cabell, said to Bochy, "Hey, kid, get in here."
"J.R. broke my toe on the first pitch," Bochy remembered.
Forty years later, that memory still elicits a grimace. There's going to be lot of those this season as we attempt to imagine this sport without Bruce Bochy in the dugout.
Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.