I have a few things in common with retiring San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy.
We both have large craniums, though Bochy’s is almost certainly bigger than mine.
We both like to walk. Bochy has even written a book about walking. I read it and enjoyed it.
And we both like walk-offs.
Regarding the latter, I have a statistic that will probably surprise you, though given that you’re reading this blog, it will make sense.
Bruce Bochy is tied for the all-time lead in walk-off home runs for the San Diego Padres.
Bochy’s 3 match the walk-off home run totals of Bip Roberts (also unlikely), Scott Hairston, and B.J. Upton. In other words, they all had more than Dave Winfield, Nate Colbert, Adrian Gonzalez, Ken Caminiti and made other notable Padres.
Bochy totaled 20 home runs in 448 at-bats from 1983 to 1987 with the Padres, a good at bat-to -home run ratio. The three walk-off home runs were clumped together in the 1985 and 1986 seasons, when Bochy saw his most playing time with the team. I think I like the story of his first walk-off home run best.
It came on July 1, 1985 in a game against the Astros. The visiting Houston squad was up 4-0 after an inning-and-a-half thanks in part to Denny Walling’s home run off LaMarr Hoyt. From there, both starting pitchers settled in. The Astros extended the lead to 5-3 in the seventh inning on a run –scoring double by Craig Reynolds.
But the Padres would rally. In the eighth inning, a double by Tim Flannery and ground outs by Gwynn and Steve Garvey scored a run to cut the deficit to 5-4. Then in the ninth, a walk to Graig Nettles got things going. Carmelo Martinez followed with a double and Garry Templeton was intentionally walked to load the bases.
Fan favorite Kurt Bevacqua then brought home the tying run with a sacrifice fly. The Padres didn’t score any more in the ninth. Future Hall-of-Famer Rich Gossage came on in relief and set the Astros down in the bottom of the 10th.
There must have been some stubbornness involved here, because the Astros starting pitcher stayed in the game, despite having allowed five runs and pitched nine innings. It looked like a good call when Garvey grounded out and Bobby Brown struck out.
That set the stage for Bruce Bochy to hit the only walk-off home run that baseball legend Nolan Ryan ever allowed.
For more, including comments from Bochy, read Andrew Baggarly’s piece from the 30th anniversary of Bochy’s home run here.