OAKLAND — Madison Bumgarner broke the news to Bruce Bochy without much cushioning.
“You’re really old,” Bumgarner said, according to Bochy.
No, not that news. Bumgarner went on the inform his manager before Sunday’s finale at the Oakland Coliseum that they were about to play his 4,000th regular-season game. Bochy entered 1,990-2,009 in his 25-year, Hall of Fame managerial career.
Asked what it means to him, Bochy first agreed with Bumgarner.
“It means I’m old,” Bochy said with less than six weeks left in his career. “I’m fortunate to have some people to support me and keep me around. It’s a lot of games, though. I never thought about it. Look back, and it kind of flew by to be honest. It’s flying by now. … 4,000 games. It’s been quite the ride.”
It hasn’t always been the smoothest ride. There were rebuilding seasons, when a manager can’t make much of a difference. 2002 and ’03 with San Diego, when the Padres went a combined 130-194. The first couple seasons in San Francisco, 2007 and ’08, which added up to 143-181.
He will be one of three managers to enter Cooperstown with a losing record, joining Connie Mack and Bucky Harris.
“You consider yourself even more fortunate. That’s a lot of losses, over 2,000 losses,” said the 64-year-old. “You look back at very difficult years and still have the support, people that have stood behind you. … Understanding that there’s a rebuild involved, even when I came up here. I think back to my first couple years, they were tough years. We were making a lot of changes.”
He remembered Brian Sabean, among others, always having his back.
“It eventually got better, but still. Would’ve been easy for them to make a change at that point. We weren’t very good,” Bochy said. “… That means a lot to me.”
As do the three World Series rings.