Hoffman calm, collected upon getting 'the call'

HOF electee surrounded by family at beach house when he heard news

January 25th, 2018

DEL MAR, Calif. -- It was a great day for a family party at Trevor Hoffman's beach house on the shore of the mighty Pacific Ocean. Temperature in late January: 72 degrees. The common refrain: That's why we live here.

At 2:22 p.m. PT, Hoffman took the call he and the crowd were waiting for. It was Jack O'Connell from the Baseball Writers' Association of America and Jane Forbes Clark from the National Baseball Hall of Fame on the other end.

He answered the call as if he was facing Todd Helton with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth inning -- with intensity and stony coldness. There were no tears on this day. Just raw emotions.

"I was just trying to keep it together," Hoffman later said. "Enjoy the moment."

Hoffman was told he is headed to the Hall of Fame, on the third try. He missed by just five votes last year, and this time he had 20 to spare. His name needed to be on 75 percent, or 317, of the 422 ballots cast by eligible members of the BBWAA. He received 337 votes, or 79.9 percent.

"It's really very difficult to wrap your mind around something like this in such a short period of time," Hoffman told his friends and family moments later as they toasted him with glasses filled with champagne. "You get to certain places, and it's never alone. To be surrounded by so many loved ones and special people in my life who were part of the beginning of the journey and here toward the end is really special.

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"We're going to have a lot of fun celebrating in the future. It doesn't go unnoticed that your support was everything one needs when things didn't go well and when things were super. Thanks for being a part of this. Thanks for sharing your day. I love each and every one of you."

And now the whirlwind begins. Hoffman, the National League's all-time saves leader (601), will be inducted into the Hall in Cooperstown, N.Y., on July 29. He'll join fellow electees Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero and Jim Thome, plus Jack Morris and Alan Trammell. The latter pair was elected last month by the Modern Era Committee.

Trammell, the former Tigers shortstop, is a San Diego native and played ball at Kearny High School in Serra Mesa. Hoffman played 16 of his 18 seasons for the Padres. The two talked about the possibility of this happening on the day Trammell was elected.

Thus, the upcoming induction will have a San Diego flavor. Hoffman grew up 90 miles away in Anaheim and his mother, Mikki, brothers Greg and Glenn and their families drove down for the festivities.

Glenn preceded his younger brother in the Majors as a shortstop with the Red Sox. He has been a Padres coach since 2005. Trevor left for Milwaukee as a free agent in 2008 and finished his career with the Brewers in 2010.

Among the small group celebrating Wednesday were Mark Kotsay and Brad Ausmus, both teammates of Hoffman in San Diego.

Trevor's wife, Tracy, fittingly wore a black and grey AC/DC T-shirt with the words "Hells Bells" plastered across the front, the name of the song that played each time Hoffman jogged in from the bullpen to pitch the top of the ninth inning for the Padres.

Hoffman pitched a combined 392 times in what was then called Qualcomm Stadium and Petco Park, and the chime of a bell is still used to usher in games at Petco.

Two of Hoffman's three sons were there, Brody and Wyatt. The third, Quinn, is in school at Harvard and watched the much-awaited phone call via FaceTime. The boys were fixtures around the Padres during Trevor's time there.

There was merriment and laughter, but Hoffman professed to be a tad nervous.

As 2 p.m. PT rolled around, the group was told the Hall call was scheduled to come anytime within a half-hour period from 2:15 to 2:45, but only if Hoffman was elected. If he wasn't, no call.

Hoffman sat with his wife and kids around him at the far end of a wooden table, the specter of aqua Pacific waves in the background. His cellphone was on the table in front of him.

Almost on cue, the phone rang, just a bit before 2:15. There was an immediate hush. The name Glenn Hoffman appeared on the screen.

"It's Glenn," Hoffman bellowed as everyone broke down in raucous laughter.

"I just wanted to make sure your phone was working," Glenn deadpanned.

Once again in their long lifetime together, the older brother had punked the younger one.

"The timing couldn't have been more perfect," Glenn said.

But when the clock struck 2:15, it was time to get serious. The minutes began to ebb. The jovial mood turned tense.

"This is going to be a long 30 minutes," Trevor said.

Almost at that moment, the cellphone rang. The callers were placed on speaker phone.

"May I speak to Trevor Hoffman, please," said O'Connell, the longtime secretary/treasurer of the BBWAA, who has the pleasure of making these calls.

"This is," said Hoffman, almost solemnly.

"I got your phone number [at the Winter Meetings] in Orlando, and I'm letting you know that the baseball writers have elected you to the Hall of Fame," O'Connell said.

Hoffman took a split-second to respond, as if he were checking the sign one more time with his catcher -- perhaps Ausmus -- before throwing the game's most important pitch. He didn't blink an eye.

"I appreciate that, Jack. It was awesome seeing you in Orlando, and I'm glad we were able to make it happen today," Hoffman finally said.

"I wish you had made it last year, but you made it in swimmingly this year," O'Connell said. "I'm happy that you made it. Sometimes it takes a little longer than it should, but you're where you belong right now, my friend."

With that, the group erupted into cheers and applause. Not a man or woman or child in the Hoffman beach house on Wednesday disagreed with O'Connell.