Homecoming for Hoffman Lacks One Thing
Sweet harmony indeed. On the first day as a major league manager, Glenn Hoffman came home.
Home, to Anaheim, the city in which he grew up and still resides. Home, too, to a stadium in which his late father, Ed, worked for two decades as “the singing usher,” the kind man who would show you to your seat every day and sing the national anthem several times each season.
That the storied Dodgers entrusted their managerial job to Glenn Hoffman was enough of a thrill. That the Dodgers called on Father’s Day, and that Hoffman filled out his first lineup card at the stadium in which he spent so many summer evenings with his father, was almost beyond words.
“I knew,” Hoffman said before the game, “there was a special meaning there somewhere.”
All that was missing was a victory in his debut, since the Dodgers lost, 6-5, to the Angels.
Hoffman, 39, nine months older than Dodger outfielder Jim Eisenreich, promoted from triple-A Albuquerque to replace the fired Bill Russell, joins Russell and Hall of Famers Walter Alston and Tommy Lasorda as the team’s only managers in 44 years. The Dodgers never had fired a manager since moving from Brooklyn in 1958.
“Tommy always said I’d be a major league manager,” Hoffman said. “I believed him. I just didn’t know it was going to be this quick.”
Hoffman played nine seasons as a major league infielder, never achieving the star status of brother Trevor, the closer for the San Diego Padres. But he landed on a fast track in 1991, winning a rookie league championship at Great Falls, Mont., in his first year as a manager. Dodger President Bob Graziano said Hoffman was a unanimous choice as the best managerial prospect in the organization.
“He’ll do well,” Trevor Hoffman said. “All of the feedback I’ve gotten from guys who played under him is they respected him. This is a different level with different personalities, but I think he’ll be able to handle it.”
Rookie Paul Konerko, who starred under Hoffman last season at Albuquerque, said the Dodgers could likely measure the change from Russell to Hoffman in decibels.
“I would expect him to be more vocal,” said Paul Konerko, who starred under Hoffman last season at Albuquerque. “That’s not saying much, because Billy was kind of a quiet guy.
“Hoff is much more hands-on and communicates with players maybe a little better. That’s not to say Bill did a bad job, but Hoff will get up in your face.
“Bill lets you play and expects you to go about your business. That’s good, but sometimes you need a guy to yell and scream and get in your face. Maybe that’s what we need.”
Those qualities certainly were in evidence Sunday, on what would be Hoffman’s final day as Albuquerque manager. Before a doubleheader in Calgary--and on the field, not behind closed doors in the clubhouse--Hoffman unleashed what the Calgary Herald called a lengthy “four-lettered tirade.”
“We’re . . . 9-29 on the . . . road and I’m . . . tired of it and you guys had better be tired of it,” the Herald quoted Hoffman as yelling.
Whether the Dodgers retain Hoffman next season depends largely upon how the team finishes this season. But, with the Dodgers trailing the Padres by 13 1/2 games, Hoffman promises no miracles.
“I’m just going to take it one day at a time,” he said, “and enjoy it . . . I don’t have a wand. It’s not going to happen overnight.” Hoffman played for the Boston Red Sox from 1980 through the spring of 1987, then joined the Dodgers for 40 games in the summer of 1987. He returned to the Boston organization as a triple-A player in 1988 but later declined a Red Sox invitation to begin a minor league coaching career.
“I wasn’t ready [to quit playing] at that time,” he said.
In 1989, in what would be his final season as a major leaguer, Hoffman won a job as a utility infielder with the Angels. Doug Rader, his manager that season, said Hoffman hid whatever managerial aspirations he had then.
“Some guys are self-promoters. What I found so engaging about Hoffy was, he was never like that,” Rader said. “If you make a big deal [about wanting to manage], you’re trying to make points with somebody.
“Hoffy didn’t need to do that. His focus was on doing the best job he could day in and day out, and that speaks volumes about the guy. There wasn’t any ulterior motive.
“He’s a wonderful guy. I’m really happy for him. It’s got to be confusing right now, but he’ll make the best of it.”
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