On the field and off, Hoffman was plugged in
Making his major league debut with the Padres in 2008, Nick Hundley arrived just in time to catch Trevor Hoffman as a battery-mate before the record-setting closer left San Diego to conclude his career with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Even before then, however, Hoffman had provided Hundley with two lifelong thrills.
“When I was in high school, I remember playing in a tournament in San Diego and going to a Padres game, sitting in the upper deck,” said Hundley, now with the San Francisco Giants. “The Padres were up by two in the eighth and my buddies and I are all, “Please, Padres, don’t score. We want to see Trevor Hoffman. We want to see Hells Bells.’ “
That is, the ninth-inning scene in which Hoffman entered a Padres game to the din of AC/DC song “Hells Bells,” turned up to 11 on the ballpark’s volume dial.
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“Then I saw it,” said Hundley. “I just got chills.”
For Hundley’s favorite memory of Hoffman, though, you have to go all the way to China. As part of Spring Training in '08, the Padres and Dodgers played a two-game series in the ballpark to be used that summer for the Beijing Olympics.
Because of the travel involved, and because they were mere exhibitions, the Padres had sent along several players who were just trying to make the major league roster.
“It was Trevor and Adrian Gonzalez and a bunch of guys like me, kids wearing numbers like 72 and 88 and 92,” says Hundley. “After the second game, we’re heading back to the airport and Trevor took a ball around the bus, asking every single player to sign the ball. He shook every guy’s hand and thanked us.
“He’s thanking us for signing his ball? I mean, c’mon. But as I learned, that was the kind of leader and team guy that Trevor always was.””
Even if the number on his own autograph now reads: Trevor Hoffman, HOF '18.
Chris Jenkins is a former sports-feature and national baseball writer for the San Diego Union-Tribune.