Bochy was a backup catcher and pinch hitter with some power who never started more than 29 games in a season. He broke into the majors in 1978 with the Astros (in his first big-league appearance, Bochy stroked two hits off the Mets’ Craig Swan) but by 1980 Alan Ashby had established himself as the team’s primary backstop. Bochy was shipped to the Mets and was immediately assigned to their Triple-A affiliate in Tidewater.
When he was finally called up to the majors in 1982, his bigger-than-normal hat size caused him trouble. After arriving in New York, he could not find a helmet to fit him and had to wait until his was rushed up from Tidewater before he could play. Bochy found regular employment when he joined the Padres in 1983 as Terry Kennedy‘s backup. After a dismal 1987 season during which he hit under .200, Bochy retired, making room on the roster for young catchers Benito Santiago and Mark Parent.
Bochy became a minor league manager for the Padres when his playing days ended, eventually joining the big-league club as third-base coach in 1993. After the Padres finished last in the division in 1994, Bochy replaced Jim Riggleman as skipper and thus became the first former Padres player to manage the team.
Helped by the addition of veterans Wally Joyner and Rickey Henderson, the Padres surged to the best record in the NL West in 1996, earning Bochy the Manager of the Year award — the first ever for a Padre manager. Two years later, his club set a team record by winning 98 games and took the NL pennant before falling to the New York Yankees in the World Series. Although the Padres fell below .500 in ’99, Bochy’s popularity with his players earned him a four-year extension early in the 2000 season.
The son of a military man, Bochy was born in France but grew up in Virginia. “In the military, they blow reveille and play the national anthem every day,” Bochy told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “Now I hear it before games. It takes me back.” As a teen, he worked in a furniture-refinishing shop, where a chemical reaction permanently added a blonde hue to the eyelashes over his right eye.