It’s been a long time since Bruce Bushey returned to Spokane.
“The last time was the year I ran here, 1989,” he said Thursday at Avista. “It’s good to be back.”
The delay has nothing to do with the city. Bushy was very busy for the next 33 years.
The manager of the three-time World Championship-winning San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres was in the city last week as part of his duties as a special counsel with the Giants organization. He was here to watch the Giants’ prospects with Eugene Emeralds, who were in town for a six-match series against the Spokane Indians.
“Lots of great memories here,” Boshi said. “so much fun. That was my plan, to watch Eugene play (in Spokane) so I could go down memory lane.”
Bushy said he’s walked around town quite a bit, and while a lot has changed in Spokane since 1989, one thing hasn’t changed.
“The only thing I remember well is this football stadium,” he said. “You know, it’s a great football field. It hasn’t changed much – which I love. I got Caboose on the right field, but it’s a football field that brought back great memories. We got a ring from that season, and I still have that ring.”
Bochy led the Indians to 41-34 in 1989 and won the Northwest League championship for the third year in a row.
Although he only spent one season in Spokane, plenty of memories feature Pucci.
“I’ll start with the late Kevin Towers, rest his soul. We were teammates. He was my coach that year and eventually became my manager, my general manager (with Padres). It was a summer we had a lot of fun together.
“This was the first year we both joined the coaching side and so we had a lot of laughs on the bus trips and on the field. But also, your first year in management is like being a first year player. It was a tremendous learning experience.”
Boshi chose players from this team who stood out in his memories.
“Of course, you have Dave Staton, what a year it was. It was a one-man wrecking crew. We had a good squad all around. We had a bowler, Rick Davis, it was a big year for us and it ended when we won the championship in Medford” .
Staton had 17 home runs with 72 RBI for the Indians that season in 70 games while Davis went 9-2 with 1.35 ERA in 15 games.
Bochy was very grateful for the support he had at Spokane, from the fans to the front office.
“They took good care of us,” he said. “Bobby Brett – he was great to work with. He made it really comfortable for the players and Tom Lieb, may God have mercy on him, we lost him at such a young age too. But we really had a good group here, so much fun.
“There’s a lot of history here and it goes back to AAA, back to the Dodgers, back to Tommy Lasorda, you know? So when you’re in the field, I hope you feel that as players. This field has a lot of great players.”
Bushy, 67, wonders how much the modern player appreciates this kind of in-game history.
“Sometimes I ask this question, but, you know, you’d be surprised how many people know about the history of some of these stadiums or even the game in general.
“But even so, some (players) haven’t heard of a lot of guys who played here like (Steve) Garvey. Hopefully they know Tommy (La Sorda). But it’s part of our job – to remind them and talk about the privilege and honor of playing on the field because it’s been shared. With Hall of Famers”.
Despite his retirement from MLB, Bochy is still involved in the game in two different ways. His duties with the Giants include attending spring rehearsals and traveling twice a year to associates to provide a soundboard for coaches and players at each station.
“More than anything, I’m just watching, talking to coaches,” he said. “I’m there if the players want to talk, and I’d like to get to know them. I take a look at their progress and hopefully help with the assessment process.
“I just make myself available. But I’m selfish – I love watching these players play. I love watching the game and sitting there (in the stands). You know, it gives me a deeper appreciation for scouts and what they do. But also, watching the players make improvements and grow as players and people.”
Bochy finds working with young workers energizing.
“You tell them stories, you know, about the world championships or something, and hopefully they get a little inside information about how it all happened. But yeah, just stuff like that. It was fun connecting with some of them.”
Bochy is very much looking forward to his other endeavors in baseball – managing Team France in World Baseball Classic Qualifiers in September.
Before the pandemic, Bochy was in Arizona helping Team France prepare for WBC. Two years later, he’s back for his shot again.
Bochy is one of seven MLB players born in France (Bossac-Foret, Charente Maritime), where his father was a sergeant. Major Joss Bushey, was stationed in the US Army at the time.
“I’m not French, but even so, when you were born there, you feel a connection.”
He said that, unlike two years ago, the France squad is still on the horizon.
“I agreed to the aid two years ago and it was rescinded,” he said. “We felt, oh my goodness, we had their ready.
“Some of the players we had last time around are actually in the big leagues,” he said. “And so, the challenge will be. But perhaps as important as anything if I can help promote baseball in any way in France, you know, and get them to understand and be passionate about it, I did my job.”
Other than his responsibilities in baseball, Bochy spends most of his time with family.
“I now have three grandchildren,” he said. “I got a 4 and a half year old and he keeps me busy. He comes home and says ‘Daddy, are we fishing or playing golf today?’ He doesn’t let me sit for long.”