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Giants Manager Bruce Bochy Mentions His Playing in MDLL
Giants Manager Bruce Bochy remembers his boyhood days as a Fan of the Senators (Washingtonpost.com)
It was a comfortable 74 degrees late Thursday as Bruce Bochy watched his team take batting practice. The red, white and blue bunting was already hanging around Nationals Park in preparation for Friday’s Game 1 of the National League Division Series.
“I’ve always liked Washington in October,” the San Francisco Giants’ manager said earlier in the afternoon.
No need to lecture Bochy on baseball history in Washington. He lived it. Ted Williams in the dugout. Big Frank Howard in the outfield. And Bochy — sans gray stubble and quite a bit smaller — in the stands.
“My first major league game was watching the Washington Senators,” the 59-year-old Bochy said. “I remember we’d get on a bus — 10, 15 cents.”
In the opposite dugout Friday, Matt Williams knows a thing or two about baseball history too. He’s trying to become just the fifth man to win the World Series in his first season as manager.
The first was Bucky Harris with the 1924 Washington Senators.
Williams won’t talk about much beyond the first game of this best-of-five series . And Bochy has been around long enough that he can appreciate how difficult it is to win a postseason series — let alone a championship. Friday marks Williams’ first postseason game as manager. It’s Bochy’s 57th.
“He’s one of the best in our game,” Williams said, “and certainly it’s nice for him to have those championships under his belt. He’s worked very hard to get there, and his team has responded to all of that. He’s a very good manager.”
Bochy was born in France, where his father was stationed with the U.S. Army. The family lived for a brief period in Panama before Gus Bochy was transferred to the Pentagon when Bruce was 10.
They lived in Falls Church, and Bochy played little league baseball at Bailey’s Crossroads. He delivered the Washington Evening Star after school to earn spending money.
“I had a great time here,” he said.
Bochy played more basketball than baseball back then, but his father would take him to RFK Stadium to watch the Senators’ final years in Washington. In Falls Church, the family lived near Mike Epstein, the Washington first baseman, and Bochy recalls his neighbor telling stories about those Senators teams and their famous manager, Williams, aka Teddy Ballgame.
“Frank Howard was my guy,” Bochy said. “They had a center fielder, Don Lock, I was a big fan of. Paul Casanova, these guys, Ed Stroud, this guy that was really fast.”
The Senators left in 1971, and so did Bochy. His father retired from the Army and moved to Melbourne, Fla. “I didn’t want to move,” recalled Bochy, who got more serious about the game, earning a spot on a junior college team and eventually catching the eye of major league scouts.
More than four decades after his family left the Washington area, the little kid with the oversized head and big, dark-rimmed glasses is back in the District on a business trip. He’s been managing in the majors for nearly 20 years — seven postseason appearances, three pennants and this month a chance at a third World Series title in five years.
“It’s fantastic taking teams to the World Series and winning it. It’s very difficult to do,” Williams said. “But Bochy is the consummate professional in that regard, with regard to managing. He understands his guys. They love to play for him.”
Williams said he has long admired Bochy from afar. His own postseason experience is mostly limited to his playing days. (With the Diamondbacks, Williams served as third base coach for Arizona’s brief playoff run in 2011.) He won his lone World Series ring manning third base for the Diamondbacks in 2001, though the majority of his playing career was spent in a Giants uniform.
Like Bochy, Williams has fond memories of his past life but is eager to leave his mark in this new role.
“It’s a nice feeling,” Williams said, “but we’ll try to beat them and see what we can do to accomplish that goal.”