NEW YORK -- The scene was similar to one that played out three years ago at Citi Field. Madison Bumgarner and Noah Syndergaard were on the mound, and a few minutes after the Giants beat the New York Mets with a late rally, Bruce Bochy and his players gathered in the visiting clubhouse for a toast.
Back then, the Giants were waiting on Conor Gillaspie, chants of "Co-nor! Co-nor!" spilling into the hallways as beers settled into hands. On Tuesday night, Bochy was waiting for Stephen Vogt, a hero of the 9-3 win. His players were anxious, though, and before Bochy knew it, he was covered in Budweiser, the reward for winning 1,000 games as Giants manager.
Bochy's hair was still wet a few minutes later as he smiled and tried to put all this in perspective. He has won three titles with the Giants. He has seen the lows, too, from his first two years to these last three.
But through it all, he has never lost the competitive fire. Players said that is what has stood out even in Bochy's last season. He plays to win every inning, every game, and in 13 seasons that has added up to 1,000 postgame handshakes in the regular season. Bochy joined John McGraw as the only managers to win 1,000 games with the Giants.
"I'm blessed," he said Tuesday, a wide smile on his face and the emotion of the night clear in his eyes. "I made a great decision coming up here in 2007. It's been a tremendous ride."
The journey is coming to an end, with 103 games left after the over the Mets. The Giants need to win 49 of them to get Bochy to 2,000 wins, and while that looks daunting, you'll never find him publicly doubting his players. He has always stood behind them, and on Tuesday they stood up for him.
Bochy said he was surprised and overwhelmed by the toast. Madison Bumgarner explained why he shouldn't have been.
"He's one of my best friends in this game," Bumgarner said. "I love him to death. It's sad to see him go, but he's done plenty in this game."
Bumgarner was well aware of the fact that Bochy was closing in on 1,000. He has won 113 games for Bochy, more than any other player, and carried him through a postseason. The two put their trust in each other in 2014. They ended up riding down Market Street.
The ace hoped to once again grab the wheel, but Bumgarner coughed up a two-run lead by allowing two homers in the sixth.
The Giants rallied in the seventh and then blew the Mets out in the 10th. Vogt's two-run double brought the go-ahead runs home in what ended up becoming a six-run frame.
"For me to play a part in it was really cool," said the catcher who grew up a Giants fan and has admired Bochy from afar for years. "I'm honored to be out there and catching that game, and to get a hit to contribute to the win was pretty special."
As Bochy waited to praise Vogt, his players turned the tables on him. Bochy has seen hundreds of firsts in this game, and he always makes sure a young player enjoys the moment. On this night, team employees scrambled to gather keepsakes from the win. The coaching and training staffs followed the players by taking a bottle of Woodford Reserve into Bochy's office for a separate toast. A bottle of wine was brought in, and a couple of cigars.
There was only one thing missing. There was no way to tuck Bochy into a laundry cart and wheel him into the showers for a dousing of beer.
"I'm not going to fit in a cart," Bochy said, laughing.
Instead, he thanked his players, ducked back into his office, and tried to take stock of how he got here. Bochy made his playing debut a few hundred feet away on July 19, 1978, notching two hits for the Astros. He thought about that moment on the bus ride to Citi Field on Tuesday afternoon.
"This is where I was called up in 1978, and I played for the Mets," he said. "This is a special place with special memories."
Some of them have come as the visiting manager, and Bochy said this is one more night in New York that he won't forget. He thanked the organization, the players, ownership, Brian Sabean, and the rest of the front office for standing by him. It has been a long journey, but a fruitful one.
"This year I said I was going to savor these moments," he said. "When you see this thing coming to an end, your gratitude meter does get dialed up. This was a really special night for me."