Padres, fans set to honor Hoffman at ceremony

Padres, fans set to honor Hoffman at ceremony

Padres, fans set to honor Hoffman at ceremony
SAN DIEGO -- It's a safe bet Trevor Hoffman will receive a far warmer greeting Sunday during his pregame retirement ceremony at PETCO Park than he did the first time that he took the mound at for the Padres in 1993.

Just ask director of player development Randy Smith, who was all of 15 days on the job as general manager of the Padres in 1993 when he was instructed to cut payroll and deal, among others, Gary Sheffield.

Sheffield was traded to the Marlins in a deal that landed Hoffman, a converted infielder who had a Major League resume consisting of 28 appearances.

"It was brutal -- we got crushed," Smith said. "There was an outrage in San Diego. Both of us weren't too popular."

The fans eventually warmed to the deal, as Hoffman went on to become the Major League career saves leader, saving 601 games over parts of 18 seasons, 16 of them spent pitching for San Diego.

Which brings us to Sunday, as Hoffman's family, friends and several former teammates will be on hand to pay tribute to Hoffman and look back on his playing career. The team will retire Hoffman's iconic No. 51 as part of the ceremony.

Tickets are still available for the game against the Marlins. The team is urging fans to be in their seats no later than 12:30 p.m. All fans in attendance will receive a Hoffman giveaway item.

The first 8,000 kids 14 years old and younger will receive a Padres backpack, presented by Ashford University.

This will certainly be a far cry from when Hoffman announced his retirement at PETCO Park in January, in an empty stadium and with only a smattering of media and staff on hand.

"I'm extremely flattered by this and really excited about it," Hoffman said. "Unlike [my retirement announcement in January], this will be more of a celebration, something that's in-season and that I can share with the fans."

The 43-year-old Hoffman, who works in San Diego's front office as a special assistant to team president and COO Tom Garfinkel, said he was somewhat surprised at how well he kept his emotions in check during his January retirement announcement.

Hoffman understands he might not be as lucky Sunday.

"When you walk down memory lane, I have a tendency to get a little emotional. I think I did fine with the announcement of retirement," Hoffman said. "But I'm sure that the next time, there will be more family members there ... video and things that will be said."

Hoffman will join Steve Garvey (No. 6), Randy Jones (35), Tony Gwynn (19) and Dave Winfield (31) as Padres players who have had their number retired by the club.

Hoffman, who had 552 of his 601 saves with San Diego, didn't just impress teammates and management with his success while pitching for the franchise. There was more to Hoffman than piling up save after save.

"The daily preparation for his job, that focus and dedication each day to prepare for the ninth inning ... it was incredible to see live," said Padres manager Bud Black, who was Hoffman's manager in 2007-08.

"I played with George Brett, a Hall of Famer who was a great worker. But Trevor took it to a level and a commitment and Hall of Fame caliber."

Hoffman, who was a seven-time All-Star, finished in the top six in National League Cy Young Award voting four times and also in the top 10 in NL Most Valuable Player Award voting twice.

There will certainly be a lot for Hoffman -- and the fans, too -- to reflect upon during the ceremony on Sunday, prior to a game against the Marlins, the team Hoffman made his Major League debut with.

"We play a team sport, so to have this happen ... it's pretty special," Hoffman says. "I'm extremely proud."

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.