Trevor Hoffman got the call to Cooperstown last week and will enter the Hall of Fame with the second most saves in League history. The only man he trails, Mariano Rivera, will be on the ballot for the first time next year and Hoffman doesn’t think he could have survived the bright lights of the Big Apple like he did.
“Just sitting up there with the bright lights on me, I couldn’t imagine the bright lights at Yankee Stadium on a night-in, night-out basis,” the former Padres closer said following a press conference. “I admired Mariano’s career from afar, from 2,500 miles away [in San Diego]. Just the man that he is and the way he handled himself. Nothing but class.”
Hoffman became just the sixth pitcher elected to the Hall primarily as a reliever, joining Hoyt Wilhelm, Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, Bruce Sutter and Dennis Eckersley. It took Hoffman three tries to make it in, but he expects no such debate for Rivera in 2019.
“He will be a first-ballot guy,” Hoffman said. “He’s going to be a slam dunk next year.”
The two greats didn’t match up much in their historic careers. In their most famous meeting in the 1998 World Series, it was Rivera who reigned supreme.
Rivera went 3-for-3 in save opportunities and didn’t allow a single run in the series. Hoffman, on the other hand, only had one save opportunity and blew the lead.
He entered game 3 with one out and one on in the top of the eighth with San Diego clinging to a one-run lead. He got Bernie Williams to flyout before walking Tino Martinez. Scott Brosius followed with a three-run bomb to give the Yankees the lead for good in what became a four-game sweep and their 24th Championship.