Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.Losing his left kidney as a six-week-old infant never was an impediment to Trevor Hoffman's sports endeavors. But as a young man growing up, it did change his view of the world."Having only one kidney never held
Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.
Losing his left kidney as a six-week-old infant never was an impediment to Trevor Hoffman's sports endeavors. But as a young man growing up, it did change his view of the world.
"Having only one kidney never held me back in the way I played and pursued sports as a kid," Hoffman said. "But it did open my eyes to some other things. I met other kids with kidney problems and it registered early that I had to pay attention.
"I always considered myself lucky because I had one kidney that worked really well. I saw other kids not so lucky. When I saw those kids, I knew how lucky I was."
Hoffman recalled the loss of a kidney -- to an arterial blockage -- seldom came up as a child.
"I remember when some of my friends started playing Pop Warner and my parents telling me that tackle football wasn't going to happen," he said. "But they didn't let my older brothers play football either.
"I was just told I couldn't play tackle football. But it probably wasn't just because of the kidney. My parents, and my dad in particular, didn't want his sons to play tackle football or pitch as kids. He was more concerned about other injuries. My grandfather passed from a brain tumor that could have been caused from playing soccer."
In fact, Hoffman said he wasn't really overly aware that he was a kidney short of a full supply when growing up in Orange County.
"It didn't affect me one bit as I was growing up," said Hoffman, who would eventually become the first pitcher in Major League history to the 500- and 600-save plateaus.
"I don't remember when I became aware of it. My parents [Mikki and Ed] encouraged me to be active. The only issue was tackle football and, again, my brothers also were not allowed to play football.
"I knew I had this small scar on my back. But I did all the regular kid things. I played basketball and baseball. I messed around like any kid. It was only as I started meeting other kids with kidney problems that I became aware."
Hoffman said having only one kidney didn't become an issue until after the then infielder accepted a scholarship to the University of Arizona out of Cypress College.
"That was really the only time it became an issue," said Hoffman, who last year fell five votes shy of being inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame.
"After I accepted a scholarship to Arizona as a shortstop, the university went through my medicals. Arizona officials decided they weren't going to be able to honor my scholarship because I had only one kidney. I argued that I was a right-handed hitter and the good kidney was on the other side. I had always prepared myself to answer questions if having one kidney became a question.
"My parents raised me to believe I could do anything I wanted to do, except for the football thing ... and that had nothing to do with the kidney. They did a nice job encouraging me to go as far as I could. It wasn't until I met some kids with worse kidney problems that it registered that I had to pay attention"
"When that happened, it stuck with me. I drink a lot of water. I do my meds."
And Hoffman remembers how lucky he is.
Hoffman is active with the National Kidney Foundation. Not only did he donate $200 after every save, he regularly hosted children undergoing dialysis at Padres home games.
"I was fortunate that my losing a kidney as an infant was not a huge setback," Hoffman said. "It's not that way with a lot of kids. All I wanted to do was to reach out to kids dealing with dialysis and kidney disease. Plus, how many charities are there with an athlete who actually has a common denominator with the people you want to help?"
Community involvement didn't begin with Hoffman reaching the Major Leagues.
"It started when I was a kid," the Hall of Fame-worthy closer said. "Mom would take us down to St. Michael's Episcopal Church where we attended in Anaheim. She had a number of projects going on at any one time, including feeding the hungry and delivering food to the elderly through Meals on Wheels. We all worked in the thrift shop.
"She not only got us involved, she got us to understand the importance of giving back. It was one of the great lessons of our lives. And I saw it again when [brother] Glenn was playing with the Red Sox and his involvement in the Jimmy Fund."
As soon as Hoffman joined the Padres, he became involved in the club's two major programs at the time -- The Cindy Matters Fund and Padres Scholars.
As the Padres community involvement programs grew over the years, so did Hoffman's participation with a personal touch.
To honor his father's service in the Marine Corps, Hoffman also hosted military service families at home games and contributed to the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation.
Recently, Hoffman has become involved in Rady Children's Hospital.
"That's a great way to give back," he said. "Go to Rady Children's For Life Program once and you'll understand.
"As a ballplayer, I was blessed to be in a position where I could give back," said Hoffman, who is now a regular at Padres' community outreach programs -- particularly those working with the youth of the San Diego area.
"It's so easy to reach out and touch a life with a smile from where we are," Hoffman said. "And when there is a connection, like when a kid who has never hit a baseball makes contact at a clinic, it is a magical moment for me as well as the young boy or girl ... I happened to be there for a very special moment."
Hoffman won the Padres' Chairman's Award for Community Service in 1999.
In 2004, Hoffman was honored with The Hutch Award, which goes annually to the Major League player "who best exemplifies the fighting spirit and competitive desire" of former player and manager Fred Hutchinson.
Two years later, Hoffman was honored with the Lou Gehrig Award, which goes annually to the player who best exhibits the character of Gehrig both on and off the field.
And if you've followed the recent travels of the Padres Holiday Caravan, you have noticed a repeating figure in several of the pictures the club has posted online -- a smiling Trevor Hoffman.
Even after his playing career, Hoffman has been one of the more active Padres in the community.