Bruce Bochy was enjoying himself in retirement last fall at home in Tennessee, spending time with his three grandchildren, fishing and doing just about whatever he wanted, really.
Still, the longer he was away from the big leagues, the more he missed the game. And he missed winning.
A year later, after leading the Texas Rangers to their first World Series championship in his return to the bench, Bochy is the sixth manager to win four titles, joining Casey Stengel (seven), Joe McCarthy (seven), Connie Mack (five), Walter Alston (four) and Joe Torre (four).
All the others are in the Hall of Fame. But the 68-year-old Bochy, who almost certainly will join them in Cooperstown one day, is the only one to win with more than one team.
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“It’s really overwhelming because of what those men accomplished,” Bochy said after the Rangers’ title-clinching 5-0 win at Arizona on Wednesday night. “But you look at that and you know that you’re benefiting from so many people, wells dug by others. And for me, to get into this situation, again, very fortunate. But to mention those names, I never thought in my wildest dreams when I started managing that I’d be in this position.”
The first of Bochy’s three World Series championships in a five-season span with the San Francisco Giants came against Texas in 2010. Exactly 13 years to the date after that deciding Game 5 at the old Rangers ballpark, he managed the Rangers in a Game 5 clincher.
The only other managers to win the World Series in both leagues are Sparky Anderson (1975-76 Cincinnati, 1984 Detroit) and Tony La Russa (1989 Oakland, 2006 and 2011 St. Louis). The second title La Russa won with the Cardinals had long haunted the Rangers, who in their last Fall Classic until now were twice within one strike of the title in Game 6 before losing that one and Game 7.
“Bochy is awesome. He keeps it even keel the entire time,” Rangers pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, who threw six scoreless innings to win Game 5, said earlier this postseason. “Everything he does, he has a plan to it. We believe in him.”
Bochy hadn’t managed in the majors since 2019, when he stepped away after 13 seasons with the Giants, which followed 12 seasons and one World Series appearance with San Diego. But then he got a call last fall from Rangers general manager Chris Young, one of his former pitchers with the Padres.
They had several hours of conversations, and one of the first things Young told Bochy after offering him the job was that he wasn’t doing it because he loved playing for him. It was because Young and Rangers ownership felt Bochy, who only wanted to manage a club with a chance to win, was the right person to oversee a winning culture and lead Texas into the future.
“It’s special to come here in my first year with a team that was determined to play winning baseball and had never won a championship,” Bochy said. “But as far as me, that’s a byproduct of what those (players) did out there and what the front office did. I was along for the ride, trust me. I was very fortunate and blessed to be able to get back into baseball in this type of a situation.”
One of the first things Bochy told Rangers players at the start of spring training was that he didn’t come out of retirement to lose. That was about 8 1/2 months ago at their complex in Surprise, Arizona, about 25 miles from where they finished their first championship season.
“Gradually, after I retired, I started missing the game. I said this in 2020, that was the COVID year — I didn’t miss that. I said my timing was pretty good,” Bochy said. “But I go back to helping the French trying to qualify for the WBC. I just did it for fun, but also to try to help them qualify. And I was in Ravensburg, Germany, in the dugout last year, last October, and I said, man, I really miss this. But I never called anybody.”
Instead, he got a call from the Rangers, who just two years ago lost 102 games and were coming off a franchise-worst streak of six consecutive losing seasons.
Now Bochy is only the second manager or coach in North America’s four major pro sports (MLB/NBA/NFL/NHL) to snap a franchise’s title drought of at least 62 years in his first season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Terry Francona led Boston to a World Series crown in his 2004 debut, the first for the Red Sox since 1918. Rangers history dates back to 1961, when they were the expansion Washington Senators. They moved to Texas in 1972.
With 74-year-old Dusty Baker’s retirement last week after the Houston Astros lost to Texas in the AL Championship Series, Bochy is now the oldest manager in the majors. Baker and Bochy are among 12 skippers with at least 2,000 wins, and the rest are in the Hall of Fame. Bochy matched Baker with 57 postseason victories, and only three managers have more.
Rangers reliever Will Smith, who became the first player to win three consecutive World Series titles with three different teams, also pitched for Bochy with the Giants in 2016 and 2018-19.
“He’s the same guy in San Francisco. He’s the same guy here. He’s just cool, calm, collected demeanor. He’s super smart,” Smith said. “He’s been in this game forever, and he’s probably seen it all. He’s just so prepared. And the situation doesn’t freak him out. It’s kind of like your grandpa. He sits there; we’re going to be all right. Just keep grinding it out, boys.”
Now that the season is over, Bochy is sure his actual grandson will be waiting for him at home outside Nashville — with a fishing pole.
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