When the San Diego Padres recently unveiled this year’s promotional schedule, items commemorating the 1998 team and Trevor Hoffman were featured prominently.
Also, the San Diego Padres have designated the series against the Arizona Diamondbacks August 16th through the 19th, as a celebration in honor of Hoffman entering the Hall of Fame. Even better, a Hoffman statue will be erected sometime this summer. Hoffman deserves all these honors, but he also deserves an apology from the home team.
Trevor Hoffman should have ended his career with the San Diego Padres. Instead, team CEO Sandy Alderson denied Hoffman’s request to meet with owner John Moores and general manager Kevin Towers at the end of the season in 2008. Then, Alderson pulled a one-year deal off the table.
In January that year alarm bells over the fate of the franchise had started to ring when Becky Moores filed for divorce. That year the team had recorded 63 wins and 99 losses, but payroll for the 2009 team would be cut from $74 million to $44 million. If Hoffman accepted the Padres’ $4 million offer he would take a $3 million hit.
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Although Hoffman had no desire to uproot himself, his wife Tracy and their three sons, he felt the team left him little choice but to file for free agency. He would never pitch for the San Diego Padres again and instead signed a free agent contract with the Milwaukee Brewers in January of 2009 for one year at $6 million and $1.5 million in incentives. At the time, Hoffy had 554 career saves, and he added 47 to that total with the Brewers.
His 601 total saves still lead the National League, and MLB has named the annual award for best relief pitcher the Trevor Hoffman NL Reliever of the Year award. The American League award has been named after the Yankees’ closer Mariano Rivera who ended his career with 652 saves. By way of comparison, Lee Smith, who ranks third on the list has 478 saves to his credit.
But Trevor Hoffman means much more to the Friar faithful than 601 saves or a league award. He closed games for the Padres from 1993 through 2008, one of the few bright spots for a franchise with more losing than winning seasons during that time. His entry from the bullpen to AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells” electrified many a crowd in Qualcomm Stadium and later Petco Park.
And he wanted to end his career as a Padre. Instead “Hell’s Bells” rang out from Miller Park in Milwaukee as Hoffman jogged in to take his place on the mound. Current management should be congratulated for honoring Trevor Hoffman this year. But the Padres also owe Hoffy an apology for the former regime’s disrespect.