Hoffman caps emotional night by tipping his cap

Saturday's ceremonies a fitting conclusion to Hall of Fame timeline

August 19th, 2018

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

As grand finales go, it was a grand, grand finale.

When the lights came back up at Petco Park on Saturday night at the end of a fireworks show he helped choreograph, Trevor Hoffman was standing on the mound -- in full 1998 uniform -- with wife Tracy at his side.

The place erupted in cheers.

The tears flowed from Trevor and Tracy ... and they weren't alone.

Emotional ... absolutely.

What a fitting conclusion to a night that capped San Diego's celebration of what we all saw on July 29 -- Hoffman being inducted into the greatest shrine in sports ... baseball's Hall of Fame.

We're not quite finished. Fans who attend Sunday afternoon's game will get a small replica of the Trevor Hoffman statue that was unveiled on Saturday -- fittingly overlooking the Padres' bullpen from the K Street corridor.

But Saturday night was the emotional climax of the weekend's celebration. And the cap to the climax was just that -- Hoffman taking off his cap on the Petco Park mound and waving to the crowd as his other hand tapped his chest outside his heart.

If you don't get it, you'll never get it.

This is a mutual love affair -- the fans of San Diego for Hoffman ... and Hoffman for the city and his fans.

Earlier, as he addressed the fans from a podium on the field, Hoffman's words were twice interrupted by standing ovations. He looked around and teared up, then regained his composure and pressed on.

Hoffman said he was "completely humbled." When he spoke of his statue, he hoped fans might "reminisce a little bit about what 51 was like."

Well, let future generations know Hoffman was not only quite a pitcher, but also a man of great values who loved family, friends and San Diego.

I love it that everyone saw the emotional side of Hoffman. He was always up front. If you asked him a question, you got a straight reply. Everyone always knew where they stood with Hoffman. It's a value that made him a great teammate.

And that was pure emotion fans saw on Saturday night. No sugar-coating. Trevor was touched like he touched so many of us so many times. And when we saw how he was affected by the events of the night, we were touched again.

Monuments to three great Padres now grace the grounds around Petco Park: Tony Gwynn, Jerry Coleman and Hoffman. It might be ages before the club comes up with another figure to share the hallowed ground walked by that trio.

Never forget, San Diego.

Not just what those three men did as Padres, but what they did as men for San Diego.

Trevor, Tony and Jerry.