My trip inside the Green Monster at Fenway Park with Bruce Bochy

Giants manager Bruce Bochy invited me on a tour of the Green Monster at Fenway Park on Thursday

Giants manager Bruce Bochy walks on the outfield grass at Fenway Park after touring the inside of the Green Monster with Bay Area News Group Giants beat writer Kerry Crowley. (Photo courtesy: San Francisco Giants/Andy Kuno)
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BOSTON — When the interview ends, the conversation begins.

It’s a daily routine for Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who is part strategist and part storyteller.

Before and after each of the Giants’ 162 games, Bochy meets with reporters. He’ll chat with a group of writers in the dugout, conduct a daily radio interview in his office or on the field and set aside time for national columnists who want to talk with him one-on-one, away from the spotlight.

When the recorder turns off, the good stuff almost always comes out. And on Thursday at Fenway Park, Bochy was on his game.

Twelve hours after a dozen reporters gathered into the tight quarters of the manager’s office in the visiting clubhouse at Fenway Park and asked Bochy about earning his 2,000th victory as a major league manager, he was back on the daily grind.

He sat in the dugout and addressed injury news, fielded questions about his bullpen and discussed the long-term future for a roster he won’t be managing in 10 days. When the TV cameras scattered, the beat reporters put their notebooks down and no microphone was in sight, Bochy showed his true colors.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy scans the signatures that line that walls of the Green Monster with Bay Area News Group Giants beat reporter Kerry Crowley on Thursday, September 19, 2019 at Fenway Park. (Photo courtesy: San Francisco Giants/Andy Kuno)

At his core, Bruce Bochy is a baseball fan. And when baseball fans go to Fenway Park, there’s business to attend to.

Bochy told reporters he was going to go “walk around,” which is unusual for a manager who typically retreats to the clubhouse before day games.

“Have you been inside the Green Monster?” Bochy asked.

Three other reporters sitting alongside him said yes. I said no.

“Well come on,” Bochy said, as he stood up from his seat in the visitor’s dugout.

And so began our journey to one of baseball’s most iconic landmarks.

What’s it like to be Bruce Bochy? I saw a glimpse while walking by his side on the outfield grass at Fenway Park. As soon as the manager emerged from the dugout, Giants fans who arrived 90 minutes before first pitch shouted in his direction.

There were autograph seekers, fans with signs and adults trying to thank him for all he’s accomplished. Bochy, on a mission, blocked out the noise on his way out to the left field wall.

In between the American League East standings and the portion of the scoreboard displaying the day’s line score from the Red Sox game is a door. The door is small, but a 6-foot-3 man with a size eight head had no trouble slipping through it and inside a baseball wonderland.

Neither did this 5-foot-8 writer.

There’s room for about four or five people to stand comfortably inside the Green Monster, and on our tour, we were accompanied by a San Francisco Giants photographer and videographer documenting the moment.

Bochy immediately began scanning the walls, surveying the names of the thousands of players, coaches and managers who have signed their name with permanent markers inside the wall.

Bochy made a beeline for the far corner and scanned the back wall, appearing to search for a particular name.

“I can’t remember where I signed it,” he said with a laugh.

I offered Bochy a pen, but once you sign the Green Monster or “The Wall,” as it’s known locally, there’s no signing it again.

The inside walls perform a service to the game of baseball that will never go out of style. The signatures link generations, tying together players from decades of the past and present all at the oldest stadium in the major leagues.

Somewhere inside the Green Monster, there’s a Carl Yastrzemski signature. After this week’s series, there’s a Mike Yastrzemski signature.

After scanning the list of names and nodding as he saw ones he knew, Bochy ventured back outside. A time of peace, where Bochy could take in and appreciate the history of the game, was over fewer than two minutes after it started.

As Bochy began to walk back toward the dugout, another fan called out and must have uttered the magic phrase.

All Bochy heard was “Brevard.”

As I strolled back to the dugout, Bochy took a detour. He soon recognized a man standing in the first row of seats along the left field line. It was an old teammate from Bochy’s playing days at Brevard Community College, where Bochy’s career was in its beginning stages more than 40 years ago.

Fans began to move down from their seats to gather around Bochy, seeking a signature from a man who just studied thousands of them.

Clad in orange and black, the group greeted Bochy like a hero. If you saw him inside the Green Monster, you’d know that above all, Bochy is a fan.

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