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The S.F. Interview: Bruce Almighty

How can a team of Freaks and Pandas be led by such a self-effacing manager? The Giants’ Bruce Bochy finds answers in solitude.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy, photographed in Scottsdale, Arizona, on March 21.

Bochy looking his mustachioed finest as a minor-league catcher in 1983.

Has your style changed much over the years? It seems to me that you go about the job pretty much the same way you did managing the San Diego Padres in the late ’90s.
I don’t think my style has changed much. If anything, I think I’ve developed a little more patience and a little more trust in my coaching staff. I rely on them. When I was young, my first year or two, I did everything. I ran every meeting, whether it was a pitching meeting or how we were going to defend opposing teams. But I’ve learned that you have to let your coaches coach. They have expertise in their area, and that’s why they’re there, and you need to utilize them. Delegating has become an important part of my job.

It seems like you enjoy yourself more than the average manager. A lot of your peers look agitated all the time, but you really look like you’re at ease, even having fun.
I am enjoying myself. I know how fortunate I am to be doing what I’m doing and to have been doing it for so long. I’ve been blessed, particularly to come up here to San Francisco to be part of a storied franchise and, now, to win two World Series. I’m in a good place. I’m fortunate to be around the people I am, our ownership and [general manager] Brian Sabean—who is not only my boss but my friend—and to have them give me the tools to do what we’ve done here recently.

And to have your home ballpark be among the best in baseball. It seems like a great, great place to manage.
It’s unbelievable. Really, it’s overwhelming at times, when every day you look up at the stands and we’re sold out, and you see the support that we get, the enthusiasm, from our fans. You walk around the city and see how passionate they all are. To be part of two World Series champions, again, that’s such an honor. The rings are nice. Winning last year’s World Series was great. But to be part of the two parades and to see how many people have been impacted and how much they care about this team, those are memories that all of these players and I, we’ll never forget. We’ll always savor those memories.

You mentioned walking around the city, and I recall from the last time we talked, years ago, that you are an avid walker. For you, it was kind of like therapy. Is that still true?
What got me into walking really was, with all the years of catching, the wear and tear on the legs. With my left knee at a point now where I can’t run, I still wanted to stay active and, of course, stay in decent shape. So I took up walking. Every city I go to, I get away, particularly after a game that didn’t go well. I can say, “I don’t wanna sit in the bus. I’m gonna walk back by myself.” It is still kind of my therapy, I guess.

What are the best Bruce Bochy walking cities?
Cincinnati is great—you go from one state to the other, Ohio to Kentucky, and you walk across the bridge over the Ohio River. Wrigley Field, you walk down by Lake Michigan. I’ll leave the ballpark and walk to the hotel, or vice versa, and that’s about six miles. Milwaukee, it’s great walking, you can walk along the lake there. Really, there are not too many parks I don’t walk from, because they all have their sights that I enjoy, and most of them are great walking areas.

Do you ever walk to the park in San Francisco? Not to blow your cover.
In San Francisco, my routine is to walk past the wharf and come back. I live close to the ballpark. And it’s such a great walk. You’re walking along the water there, and of course, it’s such a beautiful city to walk in. In fact, when my wife and I go out and get something to eat, we usually walk to the restaurant, whether it’s in North Beach or wherever. She’s a fast walker, so she keeps me at a good pace.