In his third year on the ballot, longtime San Diego Padres closer Trevor Hoffman has been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
He was elected alongside Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, and Jim Thome. Hoffman, known for his high leg kick and devastating changeup, earned 79.9 of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s votes, and will join elite company in the Hall among Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, and Goose Gossage as just the sixth reliever, and second closer of all time to be inducted. In addition, he will be the third Padres player in Cooperstown, joining Dave Winfield and Tony Gywnn in the Hall.
The road to Cooperstown, however, has not been particularly easy for Hoffman. While many fans felt that Hoffman was a lock for the Hall the day that he retired, others were reluctant to elect a closer. This divisiveness sparked a contemptuous debate between baseball writers, fans, and just about anybody with an opinion on baseball as to whether he belonged in the hall, and resulted in Hoffman missing election in 2017 by just one percent.
With an announcement earlier today, however, that debate came to a close. Hoffman will be a Hall of Famer.
Regardless, however, of the arguments made either in favor or against Hoffman, his resume is impressive, to say the least. With a career Earned Run Average of 2.87, he appeared in over 1000 games in his career. As a seven-time All-Star in 16 seasons with the Padres, he led the National League in saves twice, with 53 in 1998, and 46 in 2006. In addition, he owns the second most saves all time, with 601, behind only Mariano Rivera, who is expected to be elected to the hall next year. Hoffman, like Rivera in the American League, has the award for the National League’s best relief pitcher named after him, as well. Among many other things, what set Hoffman apart from many of his peers was longevity. Despite suffering an arm injury early in his career and losing a great deal of the velocity on his fastball, he was able to reinvent himself and develop the changeup that he would later become best known for. He recorded 13 seasons with an ERA of 3.00 or lower, as well as being the first player in baseball history to 500 saves.
Hoffman will have to wait to be officially immortalized in baseball history until July 29th, when he will be formally inducted into the hall. In San Diego, however, he became baseball royalty long ago. Acquired by the Padres in a 1993 trade, he quickly became a staple for the team out of the bullpen. Hoffman was an integral part of three Padres postseason teams in 1996, 1998, and 2006, and recorded saves in both the National League Division Series and National League Championship Series in the Padres’ 1998 NL championship season. A large part of Hoffman’s legacy also includes his entrance music. Known as “Trevor Time,” the closer began entering games to AC/DC’s song “Hell’s Bells” in 1998 in an entrance that would quickly become synonymous with his success in the 9th inning. His iconic warm up music eventually inspired many other players across baseball, including Mariano Rivera’s entrances to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.”
Come late July, Trevor Hoffman will be able to add the ultimate accolade to his already illustrious career: being a Hall of Famer. And today, the sentiment and play on words shared by so many Padres fans in the days since his retirement rings as true as ever: “You can’t spell Hoffman without H.O.F.”