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If there ever was a time NOT to leave a close ballgame early, it's in San Diego where "Wild Thing" from the movie, "Major League," is often lived in the form of "Trevor Time."

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Some professional athletes tend to shy away from the public eye, choosing to focus all of their energy on perfecting their craft and devoting time to their family.

But Trevor Hoffman, the closer for the San Diego Padres, doesn’t stop there.

“Hoffy,” as he’s known to his teammates, has made it a priority to use his talent and fame beyond the baseball diamond. The 34-year-old father of three children has been giving back to San Diego in a number of ways ever since he was acquired from the Florida Marlins in a June 1993 trade for current Dodgers slugger Gary Sheffield.

In 1997, Hoffman was named the Combined Health Agencies Celebrity Health Hero, and in 1999 was recognized with the Chairman’s Award, bestowed annually to the Padre who best exemplifies the community spirit of the John Moores Family, the team’s owner who purchased the franchise in 1995.

“He does a lot for the community,” said San Diego broadcaster Mark Grant, a former Padre pitcher who has covered Hoffman for Channel 4 Padres since 1997. “I think the world of him. He’s a class act.”

Hoffman’s good deeds actually occur every time he makes a save, though many fans may not realize it. Opposing players – like the fans – become quite distracted when the right-handed All-Star pitcher enters any ballgame at Qualcomm Stadium in a save situation.

Said Giants outfielder Marvin Bernard: “They ring that bell and the people go crazy.”

They sure do.

“Hells Bells,” a song by the rock group, AC/DC, is Hoffman’s signature and the loud ringing of “the bell” to start the tune gets Padre fans all fired up – and opposing players fearing a loss. And for good reason.

Last season, Hoffman joined only 13 others in the 300 career saves club. Hoffman also reached unprecedented heights among relief pitchers with his 5th career 40-save season, his 4th straight 40-save campaign and his 7th 30-save season in succession, all major league firsts.

It’s no wonder then that Hoffman is only of two Padres remaining from the club’s 1988 pennant winning team (the other being Mark Sweeney).

Truth be told, the more Hoffman pitches, the more the community benefits. The Bellflower, Calif. native donates $200 from every save to the National Kidney Foundation of Southern California. (As a child, Hoffman lost a kidney). Today he serves as a spokesman for the foundation in San Diego, also meeting with "Kidney Kids" before every Sunday home game.

Hoffman’s Sunday’s can be quite busy. He and his wife, Tracy, have hosted companies of Marine recruits (more than 7,200 Marines) at Sunday games. In addition to the game, the recruits and their Drill Instructors enjoy lunch at the stadium compliments of the pitcher, who initiated the program to thank the Marines for their efforts and to honor his own father’s military service.

“It’s a situation where my wife and I - both our fathers were Marines,” explained Hoffman. “We felt like we wanted to come up with some kind of way to acknowledge the Marines and our fathers so it’s been a situation where we wanted to focus in on.”

In 2001, Hoffman was back in the spotlight again, this time being honored to serve as Parade Reviewing Officer for the Mariners graduating from Recruit Training. It was this experience – like many other he’s had with the community – that reinforces what matters most.

“It was just an opportunity to be able to see the commitment that is there and be thankful for what we have,” Hoffman said. “To be honored, I would second that to the recognition of our fathers – really - our Dad’s being former Marines. Their expression was we appreciate the fact that we haven’t forgotten where they came from.”

Hoffman and other Padre players have also benefited from other experiences, particularly seeing what the Navy does “hands on.” Those experienced have been possible in large part to due to Capt. Jack Ensch who serves as the team’s military liaison.

“He was a veteran in Korea, a POW, and we’re fortunate to have him,” Hoffman commented. “We’ve gone out and observed some of the maneuvers that they’ve done, whether it be a ship docked or an opportunity to go on an aircraft carrier.”

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Jul 14 2002, 10:31:45
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