Joe Davidson

Former Cordova great Chris Bosio makes impact as Cubs pitching coach

Chicago Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio leaves the mound during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers on June 10, 2015, in Detroit.
Chicago Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio leaves the mound during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers on June 10, 2015, in Detroit. The Associated Press

Guy Anderson reached for his old Chicago Cubs shirt Wednesday, not an easy thing to do when you otherwise breathe Giants.

But the former Cordova High School baseball coach was rooting for one of his own, cheering from his Gold River couch.

Anderson’s connection to the Cubs is his loyalty to Chris Bosio, a power pitcher for Cordova in the early 1980s and now the Cubs’ pitching coach.

Jake Arrieta credits Bosio for his 23-6 season, the latest victory coming Wednesday when Arrieta beat the Pirates 4-0 in the National League wild-card game. Arrieta became the first Cubs pitcher to toss a complete-game postseason shutout since Claude Passeau in the 1945 World Series.

Anderson said he isn’t surprised Bosio continues to have an impact; he dominated for Cordova and Sacramento City College, then won 94 games in the majors and moved around as a coach at all levels.

Jake Arrieta credits Chris Bosio for his 23-6 season.

“I put the Cubs shirt on specifically to honor Bosio, another great moment for this old coach,” Anderson said. “It’s so fun to see him do this, having success. He loves this game.”

Anderson recalls Bosio as a driven, free-spirited high schooler. Bosio tossed two no-hitters for the junior varsity, then went 11-1 as a junior and 9-2 as a senior for championship teams. Bosio, one of 12 Anderson-coached Lancers to reach the bigs, pitched for the Brewers and Mariners from 1986 to 1996 before his knees gave out.

Bosio coached in the Seattle and Milwaukee organizations and dabbled in college coaching for a spell before finding a home with the Cubs in 2012. He has an apartment down the block from Wrigley Field.

Cubs president Theo Epstein told the Chicago Sun-Times that Bosio has given the franchise a boost, from breaking down mechanics to interacting directly with people.

“Boz has been an instrumental member of this organization,” Epstein said. “He has a powerful personality and determined approach. He’s a force of nature.”

Arrieta is such a hit in Chicago that a fan this week shaved the pitcher’s likeness in the back of his head – scowl, beard, cap, team logo and all.

Bosio once said, “If you aren’t tough enough, this game will eat you alive.” He still reminds players of this and was frank with Arrieta when the pitcher arrived in Chicago from Baltimore in a July 2013 trade.

“I suggested to Jake that he consider a few things,” Bosio said in an interview with Chicago’s WBBM. “I said, ‘Beyond being a great pitcher, you should consider yourself a leader and carry yourself that way.’ I suggested that he needs to be that guy in the clubhouse and on the bench. I told him I saw these leadership abilities in him.”

If you aren’t tough enough, this game will eat you alive.

Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio

After Arrieta no-hit the Dodgers in August, he bear-hugged Bosio, who can appreciate such performances.

Bosio’s greatest baseball moment came for the Mariners when he no-hit the Red Sox on April 22, 1993, after a nightmarish spring of unusual events.

His Shingle Springs home was burglarized by a man who decided to live in the place for a week while Bosio was at spring training. The culprit was arrested, released on bail and returned to burglarize Bosio’s home again. In Phoenix that spring, a woman shot and killed her daughter and then committed suicide in the apartment below Bosio’s.

Days later, Bosio came off the mound and was told of an urgent call from his family – his grandfather had died.

Anderson said baseball always has been a refuge for Bosio. The oldest of three children, Bosio helped tend to his younger siblings while their mother, Joan, battled Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He walked home every day eager to see if his mother would be there to greet him. His father, Lou, worked three jobs to help pay for medical costs.

Years later, Bosio’s brother died from lung cancer, and their mother died during the Christmas holidays in 2010. Bosio created the Bosio Foundation in 1998 to raise money for cancer and leukemia patients.

Bosio had 12 surgeries during his playing days and has had both knees replaced, but he was quick to the mound to celebrate the Cubs’ win Wednesday.

“Chris has experienced some things,” Anderson said. “He’s doing great now. You can see how happy he is. I even ran into his dad, Lou, the other day, and I know he’s just as proud.”