Trevor Hoffman’s final pitch of his 500th save. Mandatory Credit: utsandiego.com
On June 6, 2007, the first place Padres hosted the Los Angeles Dodgers. Greg Maddux was the starting pitcher for the Friars, facing off against Randy Wolf. Geoff Blum hit a 2-run double in the 2nd inning, putting the Padres up 2-0 and the Padres never looked back. Blum added two more RBI as the Padres entered the top of the ninth inning up 5-2. You know what that means, it’s Trevor Time. No Padres fan can forget that song, “Hell’s Bells” and the chills running down their spines as Trevor Hoffman opens the bullpen door and trots to the mound… nighty-night, Dodgers.
With a 3-run lead, no one is worried when Nomar Garciaparra leads off the inning with a double. He then gets Jeff Kent to ground out to shortstop. After one out, “Don’t Tell Me What Love Can Do” by Van Halen echoes through the park. Luis Gonzalez comes up to bat and grounds out to second baseman Marcus Giles. “Hell’s Bells” rings once more as the Dodgers are down to their final out. Russell Martin steps in as the only hope for the Dodgers, facing Hoffman and his 499 career saves. The count goes 1-2 and Hoffman fools Martin with a fastball, the ol’ backwards K. Martin is caught looking and the game is over. Hoffman collects his 500th save of his career, the first reliever ever to reach that milestone. Hoffman was the first, not Lee Smith, Mariano Rivera, Dennis Eckersley or Rollie Fingers, but Trevor Hoffman alone.
Hoffman finished his career with 601 saves. Mariano Rivera eventually finished with 652. Both Rivera and Hoffman will without a doubt be Hall of Famers. As Rivera racked up playoff records, Hoffman was the pioneer for today’s “closer” role. No one did it quite like Hoffman. He also did have 4 postseason saves himself. He was a 7-time All-Star and he even finished 2nd in Cy Young voting in 1998, when he notched a franchise record 53 saves.
Hoffman is easily one of the top 3 players to ever don the “SD.” He was clutch and consistent. If he blew a save, he went right back out there the next chance he got and pulled the string with his epic change-up, making batters look silly. He was a staple for this organization for 16 years. Hopefully the bells will toll in 2016 for the Hall when Hoffman becomes eligible for Cooperstown.