You love baseball. Tim Kurkjian loves baseball. So while we await its return, every day we'll provide you with a story or two tied to this date in baseball history.
ON THIS DATE IN 1995, Bruce Bochy won his first game as a manager.
Bruce Bochy will be a Hall of Fame manager. He won 2,003 games. He won three World Series in a five-year span. No one ran a bullpen better than he did. He had a great feel for the game, and for players. He has a great sense of humor.
When Mike Piazza joined Bochy's San Diego Padres in 2006, Piazza took a hand-strength test that is required of all new players. He destroyed the team record. Bochy said, "It was like Herman Munster joined our team.''
Bochy's humor is mostly self-deprecating. After retiring as the manager of the San Francisco Giants after the 2019 season, Bochy, who was born in France, was chosen to manage Team France in the International Baseball Federation.
"I've tried to learn French, but good lord, that is hard,'' Bochy said. "You know how we use slang, we say 'don't know' instead of 'I don't know'? They do that with every word. Every night, I lie in bed for 30 minutes trying to learn French words. I can say 'bonjour' and 'bonsoir' and 's'il vous plait,' but I'm about to say uncle and go back to Spanish.''
Bochy played for parts of nine major league seasons. He played in one World Series (1984). "I just wanted to make an appearance, so [Padres manager] Dick Williams had me pinch hit in the ninth against [Detroit's Willie Hernandez] in Game 5. We were down 8-4, the Tigers needed three outs to clinch the World Series,'' Bochy said. "On the first pitch, I hit a home run that was foul by 15 feet: the story of my career, I hit about 714 of those bad boys. But then I singled to left. I got to first. I was feeling good. Then Dick pinch ran for me. He put in Ron Roenicke. He just wanted Ron to play in a World Series game also.''
Bochy doesn't hide the size of his head. It's an 8¼, surely one of the biggest in baseball history. As a player, Bochy was traded twice. "I'd bring my helmet with me, and my new team had to spray paint it with their colors because they didn't have a helmet that would fit me,'' he said.
With the Padres, Bochy hit a walk-off homer off Nolan Ryan, the only walk-off homer he ever hit, the only one Ryan ever allowed. "We ran a red carpet from the clubhouse door all the way to Boch's locker,'' said then-teammate Terry Kennedy. "In his locker, we put a six-pack of beer, with ice, in Boch's helmet. You can get a six-pack of beer in a lot of guys' helmet, but only in Boch's helmet can you put a six-pack of beer with ice.''
Other baseball notes for April 27
In 1994, the Twins' Scott Erickson threw a no-hitter. On days he started back then, no one was allowed to talk to him, even on the bench between innings. He would sit alone. He would always wear all black on days he pitched. "We called it, 'The Day of Death,''' said Twins pitcher Kevin Tapani.
In 1966, pitcher Eric Hillman was born. He was 6-foot-10. I asked him why he didn't play basketball instead of baseball. "The ball is too big,'' he said, "and there are no rainouts.''
In 1896, Rogers Hornsby, The Rajah, was born. He had a lifetime average of .358. I believe he is the greatest second baseman ever. Curt Schilling and I argued about him on Baseball Tonight one night. He said Mark Lemke was better than Hornsby. I said he wasn't.
In 2005, Mark Grudzielanek hit for the cycle. In 1997, he hit back-to-back homers with Andy Stankiewicz. David Vincent, author of the Home Run Encyclopedia, determined that it was the most combined letters ever in back-to-back homers, more than Yastrzemski and Conigliaro.