For those of us in San Diego, Trevor Hoffman is second only to the late Tony Gwynn as the face of San Diego Padres baseball. It isn't meant as a slight, it's just the way it is. If you told Hoffman that, he'd probably give you a big smile and agree with you.
That's what makes his election to the Baseball Hall of Fame special to this city.
Gwynn and Hoffman spent eight seasons as teammates. They made two postseason trips together and won the franchise's second National League pennant in 1998. Both were California natives, neither were originally from San Diego (Gwynn from L.A. and Hoffman from Bellflower,) but they became San Diego icons with their play on the field and dearth of charitable endeavors off of it. As Gwynn got older, Hoffman took the mantle of team leader and spokesperson. He handled himself throughout his career with a quiet grace, punctuated with an indelible work ethic. A perfect fit for this military town.
"To have something personally be able to give joy to the city, knowing I’ve been backed by so many, so well, for so long, there is a lot of pride there," Hoffman told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "I think people are going to be able to stick their chest out a little bit and say, 'He's one of ours.' I’m proud of that."
If closers that throw heat are rockstars, then Trevor Hoffman was a jazz man. His fastball topped off at a pedestrian 88 MPH. But his out pitch, the changeup, was like a Southern California Marine layer. It was easy to see, but impossible to get a piece of it.
He came to San Diego in one of the Padres' many "fire sale" trades in 1993 and became the full time closer in 1994. The rest is Hall of Fame history.
Petco Park should crank up AC/DC's "Hells Bells" again in celebration. If they were smart, Cooperstown should get a copy from iTunes before the summer.