WASHINGTON D.C. -- More than 50 years later, Bruce Bochy is still holding the grudge.
As a 12-year-old growing up in the D.C. area, Bochy had a paper route for "The Evening Star." He still can't figure out how he didn't win when the paper held a contest that promised free Washington Senators tickets to the five kids who solicited the most customers. Adult Bochy said young Bochy was "hustling."
"It was fixed," he said this week. "Because I got a lot of customers."
Those memories came flooding back Tuesday when Bochy walked into Nationals Park, which was built decades after his father took him to his first game at RFK Stadium. Bochy remembers seeing the Cleveland Indians visit that day in 1966. He sat in the upper deck, along the third base line. The next year, he got an up-close view of Mickey Mantle and the New York Yankees.
Bochy has tried not to think of this season as a farewell tour, and there were no signs of that on the season-opening trip. But the Giants visit San Diego and Los Angeles again. This was, barring a surprise playoff matchup, Bochy's final trip to Washington D.C. as a manager, and he admitted that he gave that some thought, calling the city "a special place for me."
"This is a city and ballpark that I have thought about because this is where it probably started for me as far as really having that passion and desire to play baseball," he said.
The Giants entered the series with a 15-20 record at Nationals Park, but this is where Bochy's team had one of its most spirited wins en route to a title. It's impossible for anyone affiliated with the organization to walk into the clubhouse and not think about Brandon Belt's 18th-inning homer in the National League Division Series in 2014. Before Wednesday's game, a couple of Giants employees fondly remembered Yusmeiro Petit's herculean effort that night.
That night was a special one for Bochy, too. He spent several years living 20 minutes away in Falls Church, and this is always a homecoming. Much of Bochy's pregame time Tuesday and Wednesday was spent greeting family members and friends who drove into town to watch Bochy manage one last time.
"I was amazed at how many of them came out," Bochy said.