It was something right out of a movie. The San Diego Padres find themselves in a bit of a pinch trying to get the final out of the eighth inning. Manager Bruce Bochy comes out to relieve his pitcher and immediately there is a buzz that starts to come from the stands, the fans knew it was “Trevor Time.” Bochy signals the bullpen and simultaneously cues the entry music for his closer Trevor Hoffman. It was the opening notes of AC/DC’s song, Hell’s Bells. The crowd loved the bantering of their opponents as the eery toll of the bells blasted through the speakers as Trevor Hoffman made his way to the mound.
Trevor was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in 1989 as a shortstop but was not impressing anyone with his bat so they made him a pitcher. One can only assume that he didn’t impress anyone with his pitching either because Cincinnati left him unprotected in the 1992 expansion draft. Luckily he was picked up by the Florida Marlins but even that was short-lived and he was quickly traded to the Padres where he played 16 of his next 18 years in the big leagues.
If his entry song didn’t intimidate his opponents the pitching was sure to do the trick. Trevor wore his hat low, to his eye brow. He had a jaw line made of cinder blocks and one serious game face. He hid the ball very well and his delivery included an extremely high leg kick as he zipped through batters with his mid 90’s fastball. But his success came with his devastating change-up. To batters it looked and felt like a fastball, delivery and arm speed were identical, but he would grip the ball in such a way to take some of the velocity off the ball. So it’s coming towards the plate like mid 90’s but it’s more like mid 80’s! Strike three batter, you’re out!
Hoffman is a 7x All-Star and twice was runner-up for the NL Cy Young Award which is pretty impressive for a closer. He is also 2x Rolaids Reliever of the Year. But his greatest accomplishment was 601 career saves! He was the all-time save leader in MLB history for five years until some guy by the name of Mariano Rivera broke it in 2011. His career stat line reads: Games Played 1,035 | Innings Pitched 1089 | Strike Outs 1,133 | Saves 601 | Wins 61 | Losses 75 | ERA 2.87
Trevor was loved by fans because he always went above and beyond your typical high fives and autograph signings. He was approachable and would frequently have conversations with fans that wanted to talk baseball. He was well-respected by his peers, taking on the leadership role of captain. Managers bragged about his work ethic. Genarro Filice wrote in a Sports Illustrated article, “Exception to the Rule” (February 8, 2011) and gave us this insight about Trevor,
After every save opportunity, whether he converted it or blew it, Hoffman would sit in the dugout for up to five minutes after his teammates had cleared out. Whether it was the euphoria from success or the sting of failure, he would sit there and drain all the emotion out of himself, put the game behind him, and move on.
And that, boys and girls, is how Trevor Hoffman collected 601 Saves.
Speaking of collected…
ROOKIE CARD OF HALL OF FAMER TREVOR HOFFMAN
1992 Bowman, Card No. 11 (shop eBay)
Bowman really stepped up and offered collectors to this point, their best modern-day release. You could consider this set to be a benchmark product of the 1990’s. At the heart of the “mass-produced era” Topps opted to do something different. They printed their Bowman set to order, meaning order forms were sent to hobby shops, those forms were collected than printers ran to fulfill orders. This approach cut production runs which equates to hobby gold. This 705 card set is loaded with Hall of Fame rookie cards most of which are dressed in some pretty corny street clothes. But not our featured HOF’er. On this, his only official rookie card he opted to go old school vintage on us and posed for the photo like so many pitchers did back in the 60’s and 70’s, with a fake pitch follow through. Love it!
Cards were printed on white card stock with a UV coating giving them that shiny veneer. Card fronts have a thicker than usual white border and great photography throughout the set. Not too much distraction on card front giving us brand emblem on the upper left corner and a small ribbon towards the bottom right giving us players name. The card back however, is full of goodness: full color player portrait, player bio, very colorful stats with brief player commentary. And I really like the bold card number on the upper left along with the bold Bowman banner. This one has all the characteristics of an iconic card.
As of the date of this post raw copies can be purchased for $6.00-$15.00; graded mint copies (9’s) sell between $20.00-$35.00 and gem mint copies (10’s) sell in the $90.00-$110.00 range.
Trevor Hoffman Stats | Baseball-Reference.com https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/h/hoffmtr01.shtml (accessed January 23, 2018).
Wikipedia contributors, “Trevor Hoffman,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Trevor_Hoffman&oldid=822019473 (accessed January 23, 2018).
Laham, Nick. Via Pond, Marcus. “Saving A Vote for Trevor HOFfman.” Digital Image. RO Baseball. December 22, 2016. https://robaseball.com/saving-a-vote-for-trevor-hoffman-24d781a17c10 (accessed January 12, 2018).