— Ryan Gorcey (@RyanGorcey) September 7, 2019
LOS ANGELES — For someone who’s managed over 400 games against the Los Angeles Dodgers, manager Bruce Bochy got a Hall of Fame reception on Friday night before the start of his final series in Chavez Ravine, a 5-4 Giants win.
Starting with a two-minute video tribute from none other than retired Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully, and finished with a personalized, autographed jersey signed by Sandy Koufax, Bochy was applauded by fans he’s bedeviled for his entire major-league managerial career.
The moment was made even more poignant by the fact that Bochy was honored by one of his former players, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who played for Bochy both in San Diego and San Francisco. The two embraced, and shared a few words that Roberts then relayed to the crowd.
“Boch just told me that if Tommy Lasorda was presenting this gift, he wouldn’t be getting a gift,” Roberts said, with Bochy by his side.
“I was having fun with that, but they wanted me to say something but I was afraid lightning would hit me here,” Bochy said after the game. “There’s a Giant talking to the Dodger crowd, [I thought] there’s no there’s no way I’m not going to get hit here.”
Roberts exhorted the Dodger Stadium crowd to respect the rivalry, as he introduced Scully’s video, and then unveiled the framed and autographed No. 32 Dodgers jersey bearing Koufax’s signature and a message from the Hall of Fame left-hander.
“To Bruce,” the message said, “with the greatest respect for your past, I wish you health and happiness in the future.”
Bochy, who grew up in Melbourne, Fla., would often go to Vero Beach, which, during his youth, was the site of the Dodgers’ spring training facility, to see Koufax, even though he was merely an instructor at the time, and had already concluded his playing career.
“He was like a god,” Bochy said in his office after the win. “I never went up to him. But you know, when you saw him, it’s just a feeling. It’s hard to describe because of how much I thought of him. I mean, he’s one of my favorite players. I’ve had a chance had a chance to talk to him a couple of times and just what a class man and what a gentleman and so that was a very, very nice gesture by the Dodgers.”
— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) September 7, 2019
Coming into Friday, Bochy had gone 117-118 as Giants manager against the Dodgers, and 101-86 against Los Angeles as the San Diego Padres’ manager from 1995-2006.
One of his favorite memories at Dodger Stadium was the final day of the 1996 season, when his Padres completed a three-game sweep on Fan Appreciation Day to steal the National League West title. San Diego started the series two games behind Los Angeles, but edged the Dodgers 5-2, 4-2 and 2-0. Neither team had any pitching left.
The final game, Bochy recalled with a smile, was won by former Dodger Chris Gwynn (Tony’s younger brother), who hit a two-run double in the top of the 11th against Chan Ho Park. “They were on me all year to get rid of him,” Bochy said.
Scully, in his video, noted Bochy’s notoriously-large hat size (for the record: 8 1/8) as he ran down his accomplishments: Most wins as a visiting manager at Dodger Stadium, three World Series titles and the only walk-off homer against Nolan Ryan among them.
“But for all his victories, for all of his great moments,” Scully said, “he could never ever be accused of having a big head. Big heart? Yes. The fact he has won the most games here at Dodger Stadium is another reason for all of us to wish hin a wonderful retirement.”