John’s View of Trevor Hoffman’s 600th Save
Last night was filled with special memories at Miller Park. Although much of it became somewhat of a blur with everything going on, it is certainly a night I will remember for the rest of my life. It started as a normal Tuesday here at Miller Park. I was just going through my normal routine to prepare for the game, as the game carried on, it seemed as though we were setting ourselves up for history.
Mike Vassallo, Ken Spindler, Tyler Barnes and I had kind of talked about a plan to handle Trevor Hoffman’s 600th save from a Media Relations end, but you don’t want to plan too much in these situations. Sometimes you just have to let them happen. When Trevor started warming up in the bullpen we knew we had to be ready to go.
The Brewers bullpen watches with excitement as Trevor Hoffman enters the game in the 9th inning of last night’s game. The bullpen is a close knit group and you can see in this picture how excited they were for Hoffman’s big moment. (Photo: Scott Paulus)
We knew in advance that Trevor wanted his family with him on the field following the game so I went down to talk to Trevor’s wife, Tracy, and his three sons–Brody (14), Quinn (turned 13 today) and Wyatt (11). I didn’t want to jinx anything, but I wanted to make sure they were aware of the plan. Sure enough, as I’m telling them the plan, Colby Rasmus leads off the inning with a single, bringing the tying run to the plate.
A sigh of relief came over when the next batter, pinch hitter Randy Winn, grounded into a double play. It was at that point that I was sure Trevor was going to close this one out and 33,149 Brewers fans at Miller Park were going to witness history.
I ran down to the clubhouse where I met Vassallo who was waiting in the tunnel leading to the dugout watching the end of the game. We reviewed our plan just to make sure everyone was ready to go. I would help get Trevor’s family on the field; we would let the players and Trevor celebrate on the field, then grab Trevor for a number of postgame interviews. This was the order we had set: FS Wisconsin, MLB Network, our flagship radio station Newsradio 620 WTMJ, the Media Interview Room to talk to our local writers and finally, ESPN Baseball Tonight.
I couldn’t see much of the field from my place in the tunnel, appropriately about the only thing I could see was Trevor on the mound. The count was full to Aaron Miles when I saw Trevor wind up for the final pitch of the game. I heard the ball hit the bat but couldn’t see where it was hit. It was only the reaction of the crowd that allowed me to know this was it.
The out was made as the ground ball came right to Craig Counsell who threw to Prince Fielder and Trevor lifted his arms high up in the air as he was mobbed by his teammates. “Hell’s Bell’s” blasted through Miller Park and “599″ was torn down to expose “600″ on the sign above the Brewers bullpen. Trevor Hoffman had done it.
Jonathan Lucroy and Prince Fielder were the first to greet Trevor Hoffman following the game. (Photo: Scott Paulus)
The excitement on the faces of everyone will be etched in my head forever. The Brewers players and coaches were truly excited for him because Trevor means so much to them as a teammate, true professional and role model.
“I was so mobbed, I had no idea what was going on,” Trevor said today. “I felt like the whole crowd kept coming in on me. Prince was squeezing me so hard, it was great! I think the whole bullpen made it faster than (Todd) Coffey’s regular time. It was great to have everyone there.”
Trevor Hoffman gets carried off the field by his Brewers teammates. (Photo: Scott Paulus)
The Brewers fans cheered as a historical moment in baseball history was celebrated in their presence to a beloved player. Tracy Hoffman and the Hoffman boys ran down the field and threw their arms around their beloved husband and father.
It was only appropriate that Trevor’s family was there. His sons are a fixture in the clubhouse all summer long and Trevor has often mentioned how appreciative he is to Brewers GM Doug Melvin and Manager Ken Macha for allowing his kids and the other players kids a chance to come with them to work everyday. With school starting recently, the decision to have the three Hoffman boys was up in the air–until Hoffman’s wife Tracy stepped in.
“It was kind of a wait and see attitude,” Trevor said today. “I was more on the negative end of things. I didn’t want them to bury themselves the first week of school and fall behind on everything. Tracy didn’t care what I was saying; this is once in a lifetime. Her thought was that this is something that needs to be done together. She was right, wives are always right! To be able to share that moment together was important.”
After the on-field celebration had quieted down a bit, Trevor did his first interview with Mark Concannon of FS Wisconsin. He was presented a painting honoring the monumental save, a gift from the team, by Melvin and Macha and his family donned special 600th save t-shirts.
“I was thinking about wall space at home to put the painting; I’m going to put it on display for everyone to see,” Hoffman said. “In a couple of years I’m going to use it to remind people that it really was me! I might invite people over for a picture viewing party. But seriously, it’s a great gesture and will serve as a great memory.”
Following the on field ceremony, he did an interview with the MLB Network on their new, high-tech “Ballpark Cam.” The neat thing about both of these interviews is that his teammates stood on the steps of the dugout and watched him, showing the respect they have for not only Trevor, but also the moment. It was at this point that they too were fans.
After the on-field interviews were complete, Trevor joined his teammates for a toast in the clubhouse. Trevor has never been shy with his words inside the clubhouse during special moments like these (I can remember the speech he gave to his teammates at Busch Stadium following Jason Kendall’s 2,000th hit, it was memorable) and this time was certainly no different. He had the full attention of every single person in the clubhouse and spoke of respect for the game and respect of the team. The words were quite inspirational; it was certainly a moment that I will never forget and I know everyone in the clubhouse felt the same way.
Trevor then went to do a live interview with Cory Provus from Newsradio 620 and then to meet with the regular beat writers of the Brewers media corps. (You can watch that interview session here.) In this interview, you can really see how genuine this man really is. He has the utmost respect for the team, his teammates and the game itself. He is a true old school professional and someone who is most definitely a role model in this game.
Following the interview room, we had to get Trevor to one more interview and that was with ESPN for Baseball Tonight. After that, we let him relax. We really had him working hard last night from a media standpoint, but he did a great job and if you heard any one of the interviews he did last night, you would agree that his words were heartfelt.
After the interviews were complete, he signed a number of game-used balls from the game for MLB along with his hat from the game. (Sidenote: If you didn’t know, Hoffman keeps a ball from every save he records. He says he has a couple of “holes” from early in his career, but says he has about 95% of the collection complete. He writes the date of the save on every ball.) A number of those items will go to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. He also posed with a number of teammates and staff members in the clubhouse for pictures. Those pictures are memories that will last a lifetime.
Trevor still had time for a nice photo with me following all of his media activities for the night.
I didn’t leave the clubhouse until around 11:45 p.m. last night, and when I left a number of Trevor’s teammates were still waiting for him. They wanted to share the moment with the man that they looked up to as a professional, as a teammate and, perhaps most importantly, as a friend.
Today, Trevor talked about the phone calls and texts he received from the many different people he has interacted with over his 18 year MLB career.
“The congratulatory messages were all across the board,” Hoffman said. “My voicemail was filled, 100%. Being able to speak to Commissioner Selig was big and getting a call from Robin (Yount) was a big surprise. A guy of his stature in this organization and this community…that was big, I really appreciated that one. It’s daunting to think about the time it’s going to take to get back to everyone, but I will find a way to do that.”
Trevor also learned from Brewers Clubhouse Assistant Jason Shawger last night that a highlight of the final out in Milwaukee was played on the scoreboard in between innings at PETCO Park in San Diego as the Padres took on the Dodgers.
”They are in the middle of the pennant race; their focus is stay ahead of the Giants and for them to take the time to do that was a class move on their part,” Hoffman said.
Today, it was back to business as usual for Trevor. He was out with his bullpen-mates before batting practice getting their usual conditioning work in. The number might now read 600 on the outfield wall at Miller Park, but Hoffman–as a leader on the team–has not lost his focus.
“I think it just reaffirms that this machine will continue to go,” Hoffman said today. “Yesterday, as good as it was, was a great memory. Today, we are hearing the same music we have for the previous 160 days and it’s the same feeling today at the ballpark, it just moves on. It was enjoyable and unbelievable for the moment, but, it just moves on.”
Thanks to Trevor for giving his teammates, Brewers fans and baseball fans all over the world a special moment to remember.