Hall of Famer closer Trevor Hoffman was the West Coast's Mariano Rivera

He was saving games when most of the country was sleeping.

He was becoming one of the greatest closers in baseball history despite his own general manager refusing to watch him.

He is Trevor Hoffman, who will be inducted into the hallowed grounds of the National Baseball Hall of Fame this weekend.

“I may introduce myself [Sunday],’’ said Hoffman, who had 601 career saves, second in history only to Rivera’s 652 saves. “so everybody knows who I am." 

Yet, despite Hoffman’s greatness, when he entered games, most of America was sleeping, considering he wouldn’t appear until about 1 a.m. ET during his home games in San Diego, stroll in with “Hells Bells’’ blaring over the stadium speakers.

While Rivera was appearing annually in playoffs with the Yankees, winning five World Series rings and pitching in 96 games, Hoffman had only 12 postseason appearances and never won a championship.

Folks across the country were familiar with San Diego’s beautiful weather, gorgeous beaches and famous zoo, but no one really knew about the dude racking up at least 30 saves in 14 of 15 seasons.

 “Two-thirds of the country was asleep when I came in,’’ Hoffman said. “It’s a fact of just geographic situation where we’re at. Sometimes that’s a good situation to lie in the weeds, and people don’t even get the box score the next day, so they don’t even know if I had a bad game or a good game.

Despite the anonymity out East, Hoffman was such a revered treasure and iconic figure in San Diego that thousands of fans have been seen swarming the streets in Cooperstown wearing San Diego Padres and Hoffman jerseys. San Diego is 2,829 miles away from Cooperstown, and yet, the traveling party for Hoffman is the largest in Hall of Fame history, Hall of Fame officials said.

“It means a ton,’’ Hoffman said. “I can’t begin to tell you how honored I am by the showing of support and community pride. I mean, we’re not close. That’s a pretty good journey. It shows you the support we have in San Diego to make that pilgrimage here and take in baseball and soak in baseball and let the East Coast know the West Coast has some pretty good fans.

Hoffman not only has dozens of former teammates in town, from everyone from Brad Ausmus to Mark Loretta to Archi Cianfrocco, but also his former manager, Bruce Bochy of the San Francisco Giants.

Bochy, who managed Hoffman through most of his career, including their 1998 World Series team, will be the first active manager who’s not a Hall of Famer to leave his team and attend the induction ceremony, according to Hall of Fame researchers.

“I can’t miss it,” Bochy says. “You’re talking about a guy who not only meant everything to the San Diego Padres franchise but exemplifies everything that is great about baseball. He not only was one of the greatest relievers I’ve ever seen, but the greatest clubhouse leader I’ve ever been around.”

Hoffman not only was the heart and soul of the Padres’ franchise after the retirement of Tony Gwynn, but considered the ultimate teammate. He spent his final two years in Milwaukee and the night of Sept. 7, 2010, will resonate forever for his Brewers teammates who witnessed Hoffman become the first player to record 600 saves in his career.

Hoffman stood up and gave a speech to his teammates after the game, retired to the trainer’s room and sat there with trainers, clubhouse attendants and teammates for six hours, kicking back and telling stories and downing a few beers.

“I’ll never forget the night as long as I live,” says Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell, Hoffman’s former teammate in Milwaukee. “It was like a military general speaking. It was incredible. It was the kind of thing that impacts you. The night was all about him, but what he said wasn’t a thing about him.

“Whoever was in that room will remember it forever.”

Said Hoffman: “It was to just be mindful of your place in the game, and be respectful of the people around you, and honor the team you’re playing for. Be more leery of what’s on your chest, that’s on your back. Just have fun in the game.’’

“To be able to address them, and open your heart and talk freely, was a special moment.’’

It’s too bad most of America missed one of the greatest relievers who ever lived, but then again, so did the late Kevin Towers, the Padres’ former general manager.

Towers, like most in baseball, was superstitious. Hoffman came into games to protect a lead in the ninth inning, Towers would always duck out, believing he was bad luck.

Sitting behind home plate one day in 2006 at Dodger Stadium, Towers told Padres scout Scott Littlefield that they needed to leave, with the Padres leading by four runs. Towers walked into the visiting clubhouse, heard the roar of the Dodgers crowd, asked what happened, and Littlefield told him the Dodgers homered.

“Kevin says, ‘I can’t watch this; I’ve got to hide,’” Littlefield says. “So there are all of the equipment bags from the Pirates in the hallway, because they were playing the Dodgers next. Kevin starts climbing. And climbing. He climbed all of the way up to the roof, over the side, and I couldn’t even see him.

“We kept hearing the crowd noise. There was homer after homer. Four of them in all. Eventually, we lost the game on a Nomar Garciaparra walk-off.

“Well, Kevin couldn’t believe it. He storms into the clubhouse and was furious. He ran right into (manager) Bruce Bochy and wanted to fire him.”

So here is Hoffman, one of the greatest relievers who ever lived, and his own GM barely saw him pitch.

“It was hysterical,” Hoffman says. “I’m not sure how I even knew that. I just know that at some point, at the end of my run in San Diego, someone told me, ‘You know, KT kind of disappears when you come into games.’ ... It cracks me up to this day hearing the stories how he would get stuck in hallways just to avoid watching me.”

Hoffman, 50, plans to talk about Towers - with his widow, Kelley, in attendance - in his Hall of Fame speech. He’ll certainly discuss Bochy’s impact. The inspiration from his brother, former infielder Glenn Hoffman, and a longtime Padres coach. Tony Gwynn. His parents. Even the clubhouse attendants and trainers who helped him along the way.

Certainly, he came a long way from being a minor league shortstop with the Cincinnati Reds, to be traded in 1993 from the Marlins to the Padres for slugger Gary Sheffield, to be the third Padres’ player in history to be elected into the Hall of Fame, joining Dave Winfield and Gwynn.

 “I grew up watching him with the Padres and Mariano with the Yankees,” Dodgers All-Star closer Kenley Jansen says. “It’s amazing what he did. I definitely admired him and wanted to be just like him.

And, on Sunday, finally, the country will have a chance to know him.


July 28, 2018

Sources: USA Today

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  • China Imposes Record Fine on Vaccine Maker Over Safety Scandal

    China Imposes Record Fine on Vaccine Maker Over Safety Scandal

    billion fine on the company responsible for faulty vaccines given to hundreds of thousands of children, sending its strongest signal yet of a stricter legal environment for the scandal-prone industry.</p><p>“The government is imposing this heavy punishment to build effective order,” said Wang Yuedan, professor of immunology at Peking University. “From now on, no one will dare to touch this high-voltage wire.”</p><p>The government also barred Gao Junfang, the company’s chairwoman, and 14 other executives from working in the vaccine industry. They are still under investigation and could face criminal penalties.</p><p>Chinese officials said late Tuesday that they had levied the fine against the Changchun Changsheng, which is based in the northeastern Chinese province of Jilin and whose shares trade in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen. The penalty disclosed on Tuesday related specifically to the fabrication of data related to a rabies vaccine. The government did not disclose the number of doses or the number of people affected.</p><p>But the company’s vaccine scandal was much broader than rabies. Government investigators said in August that the company had also produced nearly 500,000 substandard doses of a vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough.</p><p>According to the government, Changchun Changsheng used expired vaccine materials, changed production batch numbers, and destroyed and fabricated production records. The company also destroyed a computer hard disk to cover up its illegal acts.</p><p>The state-run news agency Xinhua called the penalty “top-level punishment” and “the most stringent” decision ever imposed on a vaccine company.</p><p>“I’ve never heard of such a big fine,” said Shi Luwen, the head of the department of pharmaceutical administration at Peking University and an adviser to the government on health care. “It will give the people peace of mind about the ecological environment.”</p><p>According to a New York Times analysis of previous vaccine scandals in China, vaccine makers paid an average of $1.4 million in previous episodes.</p><p>Separately, Changchun Changsheng will payconsumers who were injected with their rabies vaccines compensation of $29,000 to $94,000 each, according to a joint statement released by four government agencies on Tuesday. The company said that it would set up a special compensation fund, according to a Tuesday filing to the Shenzhen stock exchange.</p><p>While the fine is likely to bring the current incarnation of Changchun Changsheng to an end, the company probably will not disappear forever. China needs a robust vaccine industry and is unlikely to fully close facilities that can help the country reach its health care ambitions.</p><p>“The state will not want to shut it down or completely eliminate it because of this matter,” said Mr. Wang, of Peking University. “This is not in line with the overall plan for our nation’s vaccine production.”</p><p>Li Jiang, the legal counsel for the China Food and Drug Administration, said Changchun Changsheng had engaged in “organized, persistent and harmful illegal activities.”</p><p>“It was a shocking and an extremely rare illegal case in the field of drug safety,” he was quoted by Xinhua as saying.</p><p>The fine was imposed by the China Food and Drug Administration and the Jilin Provincial Food and Drug Administration. Trading of Changchun Changsheng has been halted since Aug. 31, after the company failed to disclose its half-year earnings report in time.</p>

    1 October 17, 2018


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