The biggest stop for someone named Hoffman at the Padres’ spring training facility involved far more luck than skill.
Alongside the grounds where Trevor prepared for seasons that earned him a Hall of Fame plaque in Cooperstown, one memento involved a close call for the elite closer.
In a stroller next to Hoffman’s wife, Tracy, sat young Wyatt. His brothers, Brody and Quinn, mischievously boarded a golf cart. A shock BOOM! followed.
“Luckily the golf cart was in reverse, not forward,” Hoffman said. “When his brothers were playing on it and pressed the accelerator, it backed into the wall instead of crashing into it. It made a big gash in the cement wall.
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“It was like, ‘Oh my God, we got really lucky there.’ ”
To say that Wyatt Hoffman grew up on these fields requires no exaggeration. He learned to ride a bike there. He hit the dribblers at the mound on Court 1. He walked through the clubhouse with dad’s seven-figure teammates.
Seeing Wyatt, a 22-year-old infielder, bouncing around the complex on Tuesday as a minor league prospect while representing the same team, playing the same game as his father, has come full circle for a special family bond. .
Trevor works as a special adviser for the Padres. His older brother, Glenn, was the team’s longtime third base coach. Now there’s another Hoffman between the lines in Peoria.
“I was grateful for the opportunity they gave me and I will try to make the most of it,” Wyatt said.
If anyone thinks Wyatt isn’t the spitting image of his father, they’re spitting in the wrong direction. There is the wink. There is the mischievous smile.
Although the youngest of the Hoffmans is 5-foot-9, four inches shorter than his father, the love of the game defies simple measurements. He started at Cathedral Catholic High School, then became a full-time starter at the University of the Pacific.
“He didn’t like my plan on school first, get a degree, then we’ll worry about plan B,” Trevor said. “Well, his plan A is plan B. I think he needed to grow up and experience some things.
“I don’t think there is anyone who has the same point of view as him. Almost 99% of his life he’s had time (in Peoria), so he’s in a place where he feels very comfortable.
Confidence grew with Wyatt’s stock last summer in the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League. His .270 average ranked in the top 20 and he collected 12e-most hits.
The Padres list him at shortstop. He played second base on the Cape. He advanced to third Tuesday in an abbreviated scrum.
“His arm strength is increasing, so it’s pretty cool to see him play on the left side of the infield and be comfortable with that shot,” Trevor said. “But I don’t think he thinks about pitching at all.”
Wyatt doesn’t even think about the karmic forces swirling around him. When asked if he considered a simple swap of numbers on his uniform from 15 to 51 would correspond to his father, he stopped.
Then the cosmos connected.
“It was not planned, it was given. I swear it,” Wyatt said. “I walked in here the first day and he was 15. I’ve been 1 my whole life, basically.”
Leave the karma to dad.
“I grew up playing sports in high school, number 15 was kind of our family number,” Trevor said. “My older brothers wore it in basketball. I took it when I was playing. When I got into minor baseball, I used number 15.
“I rode until I got to Florida and (Marlins manager) Rene (Lachemann) was 15, so I flipped him. And when I came to the Padres, (manager Bruce Bochy) was 15, so I rolled with it.
“I kinda laughed seeing another Hoffman wearing it.”
It’s not the only thing Wyatt wears. The Hoffman name sewn on the back creates duplicates. Pressure?
The weight of that depends on which Hoffman you ask.
“Oh shit no,” Wyatt said. “You can’t think of it like that.”
“It’s something he’s had to wear since he’s been in Little League,” Trevor said. “I talked about it a bit with Tony Gwynn Jr., how he handled Little League and basketball games at Poway (High), (San Diego) State and in his professional career.
“There are people who are going to be negative and people who are going to think it’s a good deal. It’s the way you behave. Respect the game and give it your all, and it will have its own narrative.
This is where parenting advice comes in.
“There are people who want to take pictures, whether it’s bitterness with me or whatever and take it out on my kid,” Trevor said. “He told me about a parent or Seattle University fan who had been picking on him the whole show. I said, ‘Hey, you must be thick-skinned.’
“You have to learn to block out some of those things and focus on what you’re trying to do on the pitch.”
Eventually, a conversation with Wyatt waded into deep waters. What is his reaction when “Hells Bells”, his father’s signature song as the closest, appears on the radio.
“Jump,” Wyatt said with a smile. “I’m a fan of other music. But if he comes once every two years, I could listen to him… at least the bells part.
There was a time when the song was a staple, though.
“When he was 4 or 5 years old, sitting in Qualcomm or Petco, listening to that meant dad was going out,” Trevor said. “His only goal was, ‘I hope he doesn’t mess up the stoppage, so I can go to the clubhouse and buy some ice cream from (longtime coach) Rob Picciolo. ”
Sounds safer than those golf carts.