FORWARD: This is a book, all 372 pages of it, that (give or take a couple of months) was eight years in the making. “Kevin (Freiberg), a friend of mine, approached me with the thought that we could do a book mixing his business knowledge and what I know about baseball,” Bruce Bochy, manager of the San Francisco Giants, said. “This is the finished product. I think it worked very well.”
The bottom line here is fairly simple — if you aren’t a San Francisco Giants fan in general, or a Bruce Bochy fan in particular, well, this might not get you ready for baseball in 2018... If you are looking for inside baseball moments you won’t find many of those … if you think it’s all about Bochy’s MLB life, then pretend that life started in 2010, not in 1978 when it really did.
Bochy Ball is a lot of different things from its size (it’s larger than a normal hard-cover but not as big as a coffee-table book) to its format (the authors’ how-to-run-a-successful-business jargon interspersed with Bochy’s comments in red type) to its overuse of testimonials (yes, there is even one from Huey Lewis) directed at the pluses of Bochy’s career and the Giants organization to its beautiful use of photos which will bring back vivid memories to any Giants fan who has walked down Market (albeit the captions sometimes lack enough detail to offer perspective on the photo’s moment in Giants history).
But, alas, rest easy Giants/Bochy fan. While the book may not hit a homer into McCovey Cove, if you can either wade through or simply skip the first 50 pages of mostly testimonials for Bochy (nothing ground-breaking) and skim by the authors mostly “how to be successful in any business” sermons (you almost find yourself waiting to be told to break up into small groups) and go straight to Bochy’s comments … then you will find substance.
Substance like the day Bochy’s trusted friend and third base coach Tim Flannery announced he was retiring. Bochy hated to see that moment surface, but there was a lighter part of the story. “There’s one part of him I won’t miss, though. Flann would sneak into my office like a hyena, steal my wine and take it into the coaches locker room and share it with all of them. They didn’t know what kind of wine to steal so usually they ended up with my most expensive bottles. Now I won’t lose so much wine,” Bochy recalls in the book.
Substance like a not-so-fond look back at the dreadful 2017 season that Bochy and the Giants endured. “When you are 35 games back in early August,” Bochy recalled, “it’s statistically impossible to come back. Some guys would simply write off the season. That’s not where my head is.”
And speaking of heads, more substance like Bochy’s (literally) big head. His hat size at 81/8 is the largest in the major leagues. Bochy was drafted by Houston, but brought his college batting helmet to camp with him cause the Astros didn’t have one that would fit him.
Substance like philosopher Bochy: “I imagine winning is like any drug. It can be addictive. The more you have it, the more you want it. And for me it’s not just winning, it’s growing in the game, trying to sharpen your focus and elevate your skills.”