In a meeting with the full club on Monday morning, San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who presided over the franchise’s first three World Series championships since moving west, announced that 2019 will be his last season as a Major League manager.
“In my mind, it’s time,” the Bochy told reporters at spring training in Scottsdale, Ariz. “It’s been an unbelievable ride. There’s so much that I’m grateful for.”
Bochy, who turns 64 on April 6, has 1,926 career wins (11th all-time) over 24 seasons as a big league manager, split between the San Diego Padres (12 seasons) and the Giants (this will be his 13th), and has reached four World Series, including one with the Padres. He’s managed Hall of Famers like Tony Gwynn, Trevor Hoffman and Barry Bonds, and, San Francisco president and CEO Larry Baer said, is a “lock” for Cooperstown, himself.
Every other manager who has won three World Series or more has been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“It does shoot by,” Bochy said. “I have a couple grandkids, family thing, sure, there’s a lot of things you look at, but more than anything, my gut tells me it’s time.”
Bochy has previously said that if he weren’t managing, he’d be at home, thinking about managing.
“I still will,” Bochy said. “I’ve got Little League coming up here soon, and my point on that was how much I loved this. There comes a time when you think it is time. That’s how I feel right now.”
Bochy has won 902 games since arriving in 2007, becoming the second-winningest manager in club history, following Hall of Famer John McGraw’s 2,583 wins.
Bochy said he would stay around the game, and has already spoken to Baer about his future after managing, possibly in the front office, much like his predecessors, Felipe Alou and Dusty Baker, who have both come back to the organization since the ends of their respective managerial careers. It’s something Bochy has spoken with Baer about.
“I’m a Giant,” Bochy said, despite having quite a resume with San Diego, where he has participated — either as a player or a manager — in all five of the franchise’s postseason appearances.
Bochy began to come around to the idea of retirement nearing the end of last season.
“We talked about it toward the end of last season, so [the decision] was pretty much made then,” Bochy said. “I just felt I needed a little bit more time, get away from the game a little bit, but again, sitting down with my family, did a lot of thinking, searching.”
It took him some time to gain some extra perspective after finishing a season where the Giants lost 89 games.
“I was getting asked a lot, and it was getting hard to answer that question truthfully, to be honest,” Bochy said. “It’s time to let you know, and now, I won’t have to answer questions anymore, or Farhan [Zaidi] or Larry.”
Bochy spoke with Baer and with the general manager who hired him, Brian Sabean, before he spoke with players. He knew that the speculation would continue until he made an announcement, and didn’t want to be a topic of discussion.
The meeting with players reportedly lasted 10 minutes, with first baseman Brandon Belt telling reporters that the retirement portion lasted about five seconds. Bochy, though, did get emotional.
This season will put an end to what will be a 44-year on-field career in baseball. After attending Brevard Community College on partial scholarship, where he won a state championship in 1975, Bochy was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 1975 Supplemental Draft. He reached the majors in 1978, and reached the World Series with San Diego in 1984.
After his playing career — where he caught 298 games and started 203 behind the plate — he was hired by Padres general manager Jack McKeon to manage in the minor league system. His first managing job was with the Class-A Riverside Red Wave in 1989.
He reached the majors as a coach in 1993, where he was named the team’s third base coach under new manager Jim Riggleman in 1993. After Rigglemen left following the 1994 campaign, Bochy took over in 1995, at the age of 39, becoming the youngest manager in the National League.
In his first season, the Padres improved from 47-70 in the strike-shortened 1994 season to 70-74 in his first season at the helm. San Diego improved by 21 wins in 1996, winning the NL West for the first time in franchise history and earning Bochy National League Manager of the Year both from the league and from the Sporting News.
In 1998, Bochy led the Padres to a franchise-best 98-64 record and the second pennant in team history, earning Sporting News Manager of the Year for the second time. San Diego, though, was swept in the World Series by the New York Yankees.
After the loss, the Padres slashed payroll and suffered five losing seasons, before Bochy led the club to two straight NL West titles. He finished his career in San Diego with 951 wins and 975 losses.
He came to San Francisco in 2007, succeeding Alou. In his first two seasons, the Giants lost 181 games, but in 2009, San Francisco went 88-74, and the year after that, made an improbable run to the World Series that ended in the first of their three championships over a five-year span.
Bochy’s steady presence, easygoing demeanor and soft touch has endeared him to the organization, and to the players. He took a team predicted to finish near the bottom of the division in 2010, and deftly managed personalities like Pat Burrell, Pablo Sandoval and Aubrey Huff, while molded a roster composed of of declining veterans, journeymen and incandescent youngsters into a cohesive unit.
It was as much Bochy, over the years, as any of the stars — Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Brandon Belt — who kept San Francisco’s even-year magic alive. When Lincecum declined, Bochy found a role for him in the bullpen. When Brian Wilson was shipped off, he found a way to make the bullpen work in 2014. He helped mentor Posey over the first nine years of what will possibly be a Hall of Fame career.
Bochy, an old-school skipper who served as a Major League catcher for nine years for the Houston Astros, New York Mets and San Diego, had said he was excited to work with analytics-minded president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi. However, it’s been widely thought that their styles would clash, somewhat, especially as it concerned pitching and using an opener.
Bochy said the change in management had nothing to do with his decision.
“Not at all,” Bochy said. “Absolutely not. I couldn’t be more adamant about that. Farhan’s been great. Larry, everybody’s been great. This is my decision. It’s not something I think about last week. We talked about it at the end of the season. I don’t want to burden them with wondering about my situations. I don’t want any distractions.”
Zaidi will have a major hand in choosing Bochy’s successor as he endeavors to turn around a roster that’s been veteran-heavy and has lost 187 games over the last two seasons.
Bochy had suffered cardiac arrhythmia during the 98-loss 2017 season, and had hip replacement surgery this offseason, but said his health is fine, and was not a factor. If anything, the hitch in his stride is fixed.
“There’s been so many questions about it, and it’s not fair to Farhan or myself or the team, so I’ll go ahead, put that out, put it behind us,” Bochy said. “In my mind, it’s time. I manage with my gut. I came up here in 2007 on my gut, and it’s a gut feeling that it’s time. Unbelievable ride … I look forward to one more shot.”