When the 2019 season began, the idea of retiring manager Bruce Bochy winning his 2,000th game as manager just before he retired was a long shot.
The San Francisco Giants were a collection of old, worn-down veterans, Rule 5 picks and discarded pieces, with a new president of baseball operations in the beginning stages of a bottom-up franchise rebuild.
Thanks to a hot June and July, though, the Giants found their way not only to a brief flirtation with the wild card, but won enough games to get Bochy to the plateau reached by only 10 other managers in Major League history. On Wednesday, in an 11-3 route of the Boston Red Sox, Bochy made history.
“I’ll be honest,” Bochy said last week at Oracle Park. “It’s not something I really think about.”
“We’ll never see that again in our lifetime,” bench coach Hensley Muellens said after Wednesday’s game, in a champagne-soaked locker room.
“It’s a number,” Bochy said. “I don’t know what the number means.”
To put that number into perspective, 32 hitters have reached 3,000 hits, 27 hitters have hit 500 or more home runs, 24 pitchers have reached 300 wins and 23 pitchers have thrown perfect games.
The other 10 managers to reach 2,000 wins are in the Hall of Fame. With four pennants and three World Series, Bochy is a shoo-in. If he in fact does stay retired, he’d be up for a vote in December of 2021 by the Today’s Game committee, with enshrinement in the summer of 2022.
In a happy coincidence, Bochy’s ace, Madison Bumgarner — the bellcow of two of those World Series teams — will be on the mound on Thursday as San Francisco looks to sweep the defending champs. He’s also in line to start Bochy’s final game at Oracle Park, something Bochy said would be “an honor.”
The Giants used a five-run ninth to finish off the Red Sox, and fittingly enough, in a year where the Giants have used a franchise-high 64 players, the final out came from Enderson Franco, who was making his big league debut. The night before, Bochy — famed for his bullpen management in an era where analytics are king — Bochy used 13 pitchers in a 7-6, 15-inning win.
Of those 2,000 wins, 1,049 have come during his 13 years managing the Giants. During that time, he’s two games over .500. Reaching .500 for his career, though, is out of reach. With 10 games to go, he’s 2000-2022. Only two other managers with 2,000 wins also finished under .500: Connie Mack and Bucky Harris. Mack owns the record for most career wins with 3,731, and coached from 1894 to 1950. Harris managed from 1924 to 1956. Bochy, who came to San Francisco in 2007, is the longest-tenured manager in baseball.
Since Bochy, 64, took the helm in 2007, the rival Dodgers have gone through four skippers, as have the Rockies and Bochy’s former team, the Padres, where he managed for 12 years, guiding San Diego to the 1998 World Series. The Arizona Diamondbacks have gone through six.
During his 25 years managing in the Major Leagues, Bochy has only been named Manager of the Year once, in 1996. That year, he swept the division-leading Dodgers in the final series of the season at Dodger Stadium. It endures as one of his favorite memories. Fittingly enough, his final series in a Giants uniform will be next weekend, against Los Angeles.