New but old faces now deans of managerial ranks
Bochy entering 20th season as skipper, followed by Showalter, Scioscia, Francona
For a portrait of the changing of the guard atop the managerial ranks in recent years, consider the photo opportunity on display at the Winter Meetings, where a trio of longtime leaders wore Hall of Fame jerseys and caps, honored together as the next skippers to sail onward to Cooperstown.
Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre combined for 91 seasons managing in the big leagues, and they're just part of an exodus of dugout experience the last few years. Last fall, longtime leaders Jim Leyland, Dusty Baker and Davey Johnson left the ranks, too.
All those farewells place the Giants' Bruce Bochy, entering his 20th season as teams head to Arizona and Florida for Spring Training, as the current dean of Major League skippers. Behind Bochy, there is the Orioles' Buck Showalter, heading into his 16th season, the Angels' Mike Scioscia (15th) and the Indians' Terry Francona (14th) among the nine managers whose seasons of experience are in double digits as of the 2014 season.
At the first mention that he's headed into his 20th consecutive season and stands as the most experienced Major League manager, Bochy reacts with disbelief, and then with self-effacing humor.
"It means I'm old," said the Giants skipper, who will turn 59 in April. "I do feel so blessed to have been in this game for so long, and to have met so many great people in this game."
As he considers being the dean of managers, the tone turns more serious, more reverent. Clearly, it's an honor.
"I find it hard to believe, to be honest," said Bochy, who sits at exactly .500 with a 1,530-1,530 career mark to go along with two World Series rings. "It's a dream to play in the Major Leagues, and then, of course, it's a dream to manage. To be doing it as long as I've been doing it, I know I'm fortunate."
Bochy will become the 24th manager to manage in 20 seasons when the Giants take the field for 2014. After debuting in 1995 with the Padres, spending 12 seasons in San Diego before moving to San Francisco for going on eight more, the former backup catcher has built the longest managerial resume in the game today.
He has a few years on the rest of the field, but there are some hefty resumes out there, still. Scioscia's stint of 14 years -- going on 15 -- with the Angels marks the longest current one-team run for a manager. For comparison's sake, that's still six seasons shy of Cox, who retired after the 2010 season with 21 straight years in Atlanta.
Others who have made it to double-digit seasons as of 2014 include Showalter, Francona, the Twins' Ron Gardenhire (13th), the Pirates' Clint Hurdle (12th), the A's Bob Melvin (11th), the Royals' Ned Yost (11th) and the Mets' Terry Collins (10th). Other managerial graybeards include the Rays' Joe Maddon, heading into his ninth season with the Rays after two stints as an interim manager with the Angels in the 1990s.
When it comes to sticking around as a manager, nobody can hold a candle to Connie Mack, who managed the Philadelphia A's for the first 50 years of the American League's existence, 1901-50, and three years as a player-manager for the Pirates before that. La Russa matched Giants legend John McGraw with 33 seasons in the skipper's chair, a distant second to Mack's total.
Even Bochy has a lot of years to go before he gets that far, but one sign it's been a long time is that Bochy was another 2014 manager's skipper that first year. Brad Ausmus was on the Padres in '95, and he's entering Spring Training as the new manager of the Tigers, joining the Reds' Bryan Price, the Nationals' Matt Williams and the Cubs' Rick Renteria as first-time skippers.
Ausmus, of course, is filling the shoes of one of the game's most celebrated skippers. From his beginnings in Pittsburgh to his last seasons in Detroit, Leyland was one of a kind -- a wise first thought for a rookie manager like Ausmus.
"Jim was one of the best managers of his time, and we're talking about a time where there were some pretty darned good managers -- three just got elected to the Hall of Fame," Ausmus said. "But I don't go in trying to be Jim Leyland. I'm not Jim Leyland. I wouldn't expect anybody to want me to be Jim Leyland."
Good thing. It'd take a couple of decades of managing in the Majors to even try.