When Willie Mays announced his retirement in 1973, the Mets showered him with gifts — three new cars, round-the-world trips, stereos and hundreds of albums (kids, ask your parents), golf clubs, a mink coat for his wife and, as God is my witness, a giant salami.
When the Cardinals retired manager Tony La Russa’s No. 10 in 2012, they gave him a framed jersey and a gold plated fungo bat.
When the Yankees gave a day for Mickey Mantle in 1965, the guest of honor received a car, two quarter horses and trips to Rome, Nassau and Puerto Rico.
Nothing wrong with those gifts, other than they tended to be ostentatious and impractical.
We bring this up because Giants manager Bruce Bochy is in his final season as a big league skipper, and he is entering the farewell zone. For example, the Padres, for whom Bochy managed 12 years before coming to San Francisco, honored him last weekend.
On the occasion of Bochy’s final visit to San Diego’s Petco Park as a working stiff, the Padres played a heartfelt video. They also gave him fishing poles, framed photos of Bochy’s time with the Padres, and a custom bottle of wine. The fans came strong, giving Bochy a standing ovation which, according to NBC Sports Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic, seemed to get the gentle Giant a little choked up.
But perhaps the most unusual, thoughtful and practical gift was given on Monday by major leaguer-turned-beermeister Kevin Youkilis — it’s an IPA named in honor of the winningest manager in San Francisco Giants history — “Bow to Bochy.”
New Hazy IPA “Bow To Bochy” on tap now at @LomaBrew. A tribute to the legendary @SFGiants manager that has brought so much joy to the Bay Area. Cheers Bochy!!! #LomaBrew #HazyIPA #craftbeer #legend pic.twitter.com/6QBWHxeo7H
— Kevin Youkilis (@GreekGodOfHops) July 30, 2019
Youkilis isn’t just messing around with this craft beer thing. A where-are-they-now profile recently published in Sports Illustrated reveals that Youkilis has had a lifelong passion for beer. With his brother Scott, he operates the Loma Brewing Company in Los Gatos.
As a player — he won two World Series with the Red Sox — Youkilis was known for his booming bat and his discerning eye. He was known as The Greek God of Walks.
From his Twitter profile: “Used to hate the funky hops in baseball but love the Hops in craft beer!”
His appreciation for Bochy? Perhaps an understanding of what it takes to win multiple World Series championships. Bochy’s easy-going, understated nature could be another factor. After all, Boch is a guy who strolled into the media interview room before Game 6 of the 2010 World Series singing “Big Bad John.”
Beyond that, there is no direct professional connection that we can see. Youkilis came up through the Boston system and never played for a National League team. He batted .258 against Bochy’s Padres and Giants teams, leaving neither with bragging rights.
Must be the beer.