When Bruce Bochy bounced around the farm leagues trying to break in with the Astros in the mid-1970s, he encountered two former major leaguers who would help define how he would manage a ball club years later.
“Bill Virdon was the guy that probably influenced me as much as anybody,” Bochy said at a coaching forum years ago.
Virdon died in November 2021, but when Bochy announced his retirement from baseball in 2019, following three world series championships over his 20-year managerial career (which followed a nine-year career as a player in Major League Baseball), Virdon praised his listening skills.
“He always did his job,” Virdon said in 2019. “He was always quiet, but he always worked hard. And he never questioned me.”
The Rangers hired Bochy as the club’s new manager in October after agreeing to a three-year contract covering the 2023-25 seasons, The Dallas Express reported. The hiring has some Rangers excited about baseball in the spring.
“He’s here to win, as we all are, and he’s going to do anything he can to get us there and get us to a championship,” Jonah Heim, Texas backstop, told MLB.com. “So, it’s very exciting, and I think a lot of people should be excited.”
Bochy might have been quiet when he played for Virdon, but he was paying attention. He said Virdon was a tough guy, and the matter was handled one-on-one if there was a problem with a particular player.
It was one reason players like Bochy enjoyed playing for Virdon and, in turn, likely has to do with why players like playing for Bochy.
“That was a long time ago,” Rangers GM Chris Young said, Sports Illustrated reported. “I have special memories from that time. I’ve seen what he’s gone on to do since then.”
The other skipper Bochy recalled learning from during his minor league playing days was Leo Posada, but he understood what he would not do if he ever began coaching baseball.
“I love Leo, but he was yelling rant and rave and screaming, and it just, you know, wasn’t my style,” Bochy said. “There was something he didn’t like, you know. I mean, you heard it in front of everybody you got embarrassed in that.”
The approach to coaching helped Bochy, 67, to become one of 10 MLB managers to win at least three World Series titles, and the other nine have all been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, according to the Rangers.
Bochy’s Giants won the World Series in 2010 (vs. Texas), 2012 (vs. Detroit), and 2014 (vs. Kansas City). He is one of five MLB managers to win three titles in five years, joining Connie Mack, Joe McCarthy, Casey Stengel, and Joe Torre, The Dallas Express reported.
Bochy is 12th in Major League history with 2003 managerial wins and needs 38 more to reach the top 10. He has managed in the MLB for 25 years, the 10th most ever.
Young played for Bochy in San Diego for several seasons. However, he told Sports Illustrated that his admiration for his former skipper did not factor into hiring him to manage the Rangers next season.
“It’s one of the things I told Bochy when we offered him the job,” Young explained. “I said, ‘I’m not doing this because I loved you when I played for you. I’m doing this because we believe, as an organization, you’re the right person to lead us into the future.'”
Martin Perez, last year’s pitching ace for Texas, said he is excited to play for Bochy.
“He’s a good guy, he’s old school, and that’s what I like, you know?” Perez told MLB.com. “I think he’s got good ideas, and for me, the good thing is that he can help and communicate. He’s going to communicate with us, and then, I think if you do that, it’s going to be easy for us to make the adjustment and compete every night.”