By Larry Fine
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The World Series has a strong international flavor this year with the most surprising foreign-born participant the man calling the shots from the San Francisco Giants dugout, manager Bruce Bochy.
Bochy was born in Landes de Bussac, France, where his father was stationed as a U.S. Army officer. Bochy grew up in Virginia and Florida before becoming the eighth French-born player ever in Major League Baseball as a catcher for the Houston Astros.
The Giants manager only lived in France for his first two years but made a pilgrimage to get a sense of his roots.
"I did go back about five years ago to see where I was born, in a little town called Landes de Bussac," Bochy told Reuters.
"I had a great time in France. Went to Normandy, what a moving experience that was. And then we went to Bussac. It's not far from Bordeaux country there."
Bochy was in for a little surprise there.
"I guess there's two (towns called Bussac), and they're 45 minutes apart," he said. "I kept saying, was there an Army base here? And they said no. I got back (home) and my sister, who was born there, too, did some research and she says, 'Aw, I sent you to the wrong one. I'm sorry.'
"So I have to go back."
Not that Bochy is complaining about a return to France.
"We loved it," the talented manager, who took the San Diego Padres to their first World Series in 1998 and is looking for his third Fall Classic crown with the Giants after triumphs in 2010 and 2012.
"My wife loves Paris. I had to go to Normandy and I had to go to wine country. We had a wonderful time."
On the field, there are 14 foreign-born players on the World Series rosters, including five Venezuelans in the starting lineups for the Kansas City Royals and Giants.
Third baseman Pablo Sandoval and center fielder Gregor Blanco feature for the Giants, while the Royals start shortstop Alcides Escobar, second baseman Omar Infante and catcher Salvador Perez, all from Venezuela.
Rounding out the international representatives are five Dominicans, two Venezuelan relievers, a Puerto Rican reliever and Japan's Nori Aoki, who starts in right field for the Royals.
The contingent, including 2012 World Series MVP Sandoval, underlines the international presence in Major League Baseball, which included 224 foreign-born players at the start of the 2014 season.
(Editing by Gene Cherry)