Nearly four hours before a late September 2009 game at Miller Park, a guy in cargo shorts with his flipped around backwards was barreling over the banks of the parking lot adjacent to the TV trucks on a skateboard. No, it’s not unusual to see a kid out on a skateboard catching air over the contours of a veritable sea of macadam, but this wasn’t just some kid.
This was Trevor Hoffman riding his skateboard outside of the ballpark in Milwaukee.
Certainly it was no surprise seeing Hoffman, the all-time major league saves leader and certain Hall of Famer, in such an informal setting. After all, I recall bumping into him one morning at a Starbucks in St. Louis, and while out for a run around the Sports Complex before a game at The Vet. Still, a 41-year old tooling around on a skateboard is a rarity even before one considers that he has saved more ballgames in baseball history.
If there was ever a more grounded and regular dude than Hoffman who will one day go to the Hall of Fame, few people have seen him shredding on his skateboard outside of Miller Park hours before pitching a perfect ninth inning for his 590th save of his career.
Hoffman was as real as they came, his former manager Bud Black told The New York Times.
“He can carry on a conversation with the owner of the club, and he can also talk with the clubhouse attendants and the ushers. He has such an ability to go across so many layers of people. In the simplest terms, he’s just an outstanding person.”
Ultimately, a person is measured not by numbers and records or silly awards, but by the way they treat others.
As Hoffman’s successor with the Padres Heath Bell told The New York Times:
“Usually with such great competitors, some guys are really cocky, some guys are all about the money or the fame, some guys don’t want any part of it, some guys are very shy. He wasn’t any of those things.”