In this installment of the Players You Forgot Were Astros series, we look at the career of recently-retired manager Bruce Bochy.
These days, every baseball fan knows Bruce Bochy. He’s long been considered one of the game’s best managers, winning three World Series titles with the Giants and another NL pennant with the Padres. But what a lot of people don’t remember is that he played for the Astros once upon a time.
In fact, the Astros actually drafted Bochy in the first round in the 1975 draft out of Eastern Florida State College. The young catcher made his major league debut in 1978, going 2-for-3 at the plate in his first game on July 19 against the Mets at Shea Stadium.
He went on to play 54 games that year, hitting .266/.311/.377 with three homers and 15 RBIs. He spent another two seasons in Houston but was not able to match those numbers offensively, putting up well below average stats. In his three seasons, he totaled a .239/.308/.321 line with four homers in 132 games.
In February 1981, the Astros traded Bochy to the Mets for catcher Stan Hough and infielder Randy Rogers, a pair of Texas natives, neither of whom ever made it to the big leagues. Bochy spent most of the next two years with the Mets Triple-A squad, eventually playing in 17 major league games in 1982.
More from Climbing Tal's Hill
- Just how much better is the Houston Astros playoff rotation than the rest?
- Houston Astros: A Lineup Change to Spark Offense
- Astros prospect Hunter Brown throws 6 shutout innings in debut
- Always faithful Astros World Series champion Josh Reddick defends the title
- Michael Conforto declines Astros’ 2-year, $30 million offer
He caught on with the Padres and spent five seasons playing in San Diego, hitting a combined .232/.284/.420 in 209 games before his playing career ended. But his playing career is not what he’ll be remembered for in the game of baseball.
Bochy was named manager of the Padres in advance of the 1995 season. He led them to the 1998 National League pennant, losing to the Yankees in the World Series, with a roster headlined by Tony Gwynn, Kevin Brown, Steve Finley and Greg Vaughn.
He finished his Padres career with a 951-975 record, immediately taking the Giants managerial job once his Padres tenure ended. Amazingly, he finished two games under .500 in San Francisco, at 1,052-1,054, despite winning three World Series titles. A great deal of blame for the losing seasons does not lie at Bochy’s feet, however, as the team’s roster was often top-heavy and injury-plagued.
Though his playing career wasn’t much to write home about, he became one of the game’s most respected and successful managers, spending 25 consecutive seasons at the helm and winning more than 2,000 games. With that being the case, it’s easy to forget that he got his start in Major League Baseball courtesy of the Astros.