END OF A LEGACY: Trevor Hoffman’s career in San Diego
Today is a sad day in the history of the Padres.
On Thursday, January 8, 2009, the all-time saves leader was signed by the Milwaukee Brewers after a week of negotiations. Trevor had been with the San Diego Padres for 15 years before his estrangement from the team in October 2008. The contract is for $6 million in 2009. This is tough on all Padres fans. Hoffman had a wonderful career here, from 1993 to 2008.
Hoffman was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in 1989 as a shortstop. He converted to pitching on the recommendation of minor league manager, Jim Lett. He was taken in the 1992 expansion draft by the Florida Marlins, where he made his major league debut and got two saves. On June 24, 1993, he was traded to the San Diego Padres.
In 1994, Hoffman took over as the closer for the Padres, earning 20 saves during the strike season. Hoffman shut down the Dodgers to clinch the NL West title in 1996.
1998 was definitely Hoffman’s best season on his career. He had 53 saves and an ERA of 1.48. The team went to the World Series for only the second time in franchise history. They lost to the New York Yankees in four games. Hoffman earned two saves in it, though. This was the year that AC/DC’s Hells Bells was first played at Qualcomm Stadium when Hoffman would come into the game in a save situation. It has been Hoffman’s trademark song ever since.
In the next few years, Hoffman continued to save games consistently. He also got a new contract for the 2000-04 seasons. At the end of the 2004 season, he was offered a good contract from the Indians, but turned it down for less money to stay in San Diego. In 2005, he got his 400 th save and led the team into the postseason once again. Unfortunately, the Padres were eliminated in the first round.
In 2006, Hoffman became the all-time saves leader with a 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. By earning save #479, he passed Lee Smith, who had 478. The Padres won their second straight division title, but were once again denied further progress.
2007 was a good year overall for Hoffman. He saved 42 games for the Padres. On June 6, 2007, he earned his 500 th save against the Dodgers at PETCO Park. He was voted into the All-Star game for the sixth time, throwing one scoreless inning. He got his 1000 th strikeout. After blowing a tough save on the last weekend of the series, the Padres were forced into a one game playoff with the Colorado Rockies. In the 13 th inning, Hoffman was given a two-run lead. Three hits and a sacrifice fly later; he had blown the save and ended the Padres season. He was very upset, but he stood by his locker for a long time after the game, answering the endless questions and taking full blame upon himself.
Life went on. After a long, hard offseason, Hoffman got his first save of the season in the second game against the Astros. He earned his 550 th save on August 14 against the Brewers. He had 30 saves in 34 chances for us. His last game in San Diego was September 27 th, the night before the season ended, a one-two-three inning to defeat the Pirates.
After the season, things went downhill in Hoffman’s relations with the Padres. After he became a free agent, the Padres took a $4 million one-year contract off the table. The talks never resumed. Eventually, the talks picked up with the Dodgers and the Brewers, resulting in Hoffman’s ultimate signing with the Brewers. And the Padres didn’t even try to get him back.
All in all, Hoffman has 554 saves. He has a career ERA of 2.78. He has pitched in 929 games, with 1055 strikeouts in 988 innings. He has been to the All-Star game six times, and won various awards for his charity work.
Hoffman has left an irreplaceable mark on San Diego. He’s been here for 15 years, going through so much with this team and this city. He has been the anchor in the bullpen for so long. San Diego has loved the amazing tradition of Trevor Time, the anticipation of hearing Hells Bells every time it’s a save situation. It was wonderful watching him pursue the all-time saves record, overtaking it, and building on it. He is the best closer of our time. The Padres and their fans are going to miss him a lot. We would feel much better if he had just retired as a Padre, but now we’re going to have to watch him in a different uniform. I can’t believe he’s actually gone.
So thank you, Trevor, so much for all the memories (there are a lot of them), the fun times, and thanks for sticking around in San Diego for so long. We are going to miss you a lot, but we know that wherever you are pitching, you will do an excellent job. We can’t wait to see you go into the Hall of Fame as a Padre. We love you, Trevor!
By Kaity Bergquist
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