09/02/08 10:50 PM ET
Hoffman nominated for Clemente Award
Padres closer continues to build a legacy of giving back
By Ronald P. Clark / MLB.com
It's with that sentiment that Hoffman lives his life off the field. The face of a Padres organization that has had a plethora of philanthropic players don its jersey, Hoffman has spent his entire career giving back to those less fortunate than himself.Hoffman has donated his time, energy, position as a professional athlete and finances to multiple organizations and programs around San Diego County. And for his efforts, he is the Padres' nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, presented by Chevrolet. Hoffman has been the club's nominee for the award on five other occasions (2000-03, '05). "I don't think you can say much more than it's an honor," Hoffman said. "Guys have a great opportunity here to be active in the community. The club does everything possible to help in that area." The award recognizes the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual's contribution to his team. It is named in honor of the former Pirates outfielder whose spirit and goodwill will always be remembered. Clemente died in a plane crash while attempting to transport relief supplies to earthquake-stricken Nicaragua on Dec. 31, 1972. "It's fantastic that his name is attached to the award for obvious reasons," Hoffman said. "He was a tremendous humanitarian, servicing his people. It's just an honor to be one of the guys in line for possibly getting the award." Fans can participate in the selection process of the overall winner of the award through Oct. 5. The fan-ballot winner will be tallied as one vote among those cast by a special selection panel of baseball dignitaries and media members. The panel includes MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and Vera Clemente, widow of the Pirates' Hall of Fame right fielder. The winner will be announced during the World Series. Retired Astros outfielder Craig Biggio was last year's recipient of the award, and Padres Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn won the award in 1999. Hoffman is clearly deserving of the award, as his fingerprints can be found on various charities and programs throughout San Diego County. He has been involved with the local chapter of the National Kidney Foundation, and Rady Children's Hospital Nephrology, since 1996. Through the foundation, Hoffman hosts Trevor's Kidney Kids to a special baseball experience. The children come early to watch batting practice, visit with Hoffman and get autographs and pictures. Then Hoffman and his wife, Tracy, provide their personal dugout seats so the kids can watch the game from some of the best seats in the stadium. Hoffman also provides those seats to wounded military personnel, military families and other charities. His guests get goodie bags that include a signed item from Hoffman. This season, 215 dugout seats have been donated. And since PETCO Park opened in 2004, the Hoffmans have donated over 900 dugout seats to charities and other individuals. "They've all been special, especially the Kidney Kids I deal with," Hoffman said. "The military families that we've helped are equally as important. Everybody has a special story. Everybody touches your heart in their own special way. It's a great opportunity to give back." Hoffman has a great relationship with Rady's, as he visits children throughout the year, participates in fund-raisers that benefit the hospital and participates in the hospital's annual Celebration of Champions event that celebrates the lives of kids battling cancer. In Spring of 2008, Hoffman donated 100 portable Sony PlayStation units for the playrooms at Rady's. Hoffman has donated to education and literacy programs both individually and through the Padres, including the Padres Scholars Program, which funds $7,000 scholarships toward the future college educations of middle-school students in financial need. Whatever it is, Hoffman has proven over his tenure with the Padres to be a selfless, charitable and community-conscious athlete who is willing to give his time and resources to those in need. And whenever he decides to call it quits, among his litany of accomplishments on the field, his work off of it will be remembered just the same. "I think they'll be special in the sense that you've had the opportunity to use your platform as a pro athlete and as someone in our community to brighten somebody's day up a little bit," Hoffman said, "and to give back in a way is needed."
Ronald P. Clark is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.