Trevor Hoffman: Hall of Fame person becomes a Hall of Famer

COLUMN: Character always comes first with Hoffman
Posted at 3:20 PM, Jan 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-24 20:36:20-05

It took baseball writers 3 years to decide Trevor Hoffman belonged in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

It took me about 3 minutes to learn Trevor Hoffman is a Hall of Fame person.

Hoffman was a consummate professional both on and off the diamond, but his high standards didn't just apply to himself -- but everyone else in the Padres clubhouse, too.

That included a very young baseball broadcaster in the early 2000's. Trevor Hoffman taught me a lesson that still resonates every time I go on camera, every time I crack a microphone, and every time I write a blog or tweet.

For four years, I hosted daily Padres pre- and postgame shows on the radio with Craig Elsten (the current play-by-play voice of the San Diego Gulls).

One summer, the Padres were suffering though another rash of pitching injuries -- hardly an uncommon occurrence for a Major League Baseball team. On one of the season's 162 postgame shows, Craig and I speculated that perhaps the training staff wasn't getting the job done. It wasn't an outlandish suggestion (especially by today's Hot Take standards), but we hadn't done our homework first. It was just a minute or two of chatter out of hundreds of hours of baseball radio.

The next day, Craig and I showed up in the Padres clubhouse a few hours before the pregame show, looking to talk to Trevor about an unrelated matter. He looked us in the eye, and said, "Boys, I can't do that."

What? I had never seen Trevor refuse a reasonable request from the media. This was a stunner.

Craig remembers the moment vividly, "We sidled up and asked him for a couple minutes, and he returned in our direction the steely glare catchers and opposing pitchers saw for so many years."

It turns out Trevor had gotten wind of our radio chatter, and he wasn't happy. The message was clear -- we needed to clear the air first.

Hoffman quickly marched us into the trainer's office (usually off-limits to media) for a sit down with head trainer Todd Hutcheson. Hoffman explained how "Hutch" was one of the best in the business, and to throw blame on him for a rash of bad injury luck was irresponsible and unprofessional.

We had a good conversation with Trevor and Hutch, and I learned an important lesson that day. Even though a good sportscaster has a right (and sometimes duty) to be critical and objective, those opinions need to be backed up by due diligence. Since that moment, I've striven to meet the Hall of Fame standards Trevor Hoffman expected inside the Padres clubhouse.

Oh, and the next day, Trevor sat down with us for that interview we had originally requested, and continued to treat us with the same courtesy and respect he always shows to members of the media.

Congratulations to Trevor Hoffman, now officially what we've always known him to be -- a Hall of Famer.