Former MLB pitcher Trevor Hoffman enjoying special year ahead of Lake Tahoe celebrity golf | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Former MLB pitcher Trevor Hoffman enjoying special year ahead of Lake Tahoe celebrity golf

Trevor Hoffman is having a helluva year and the excitement is still building.

The legendary, Hall of Fame-bound, steely-eyed San Diego Padres relief pitcher shared stories and cracked jokes that had guests and members of the media laughing Tuesday, June 5, during his appearance at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course in the lead up to the 29th annual American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament next month.

Hoffman in January was voted into the Hall of Fame in his third time on the ballot. He will be inducted July 29 at a ceremony in Cooperstown, New York, just two weeks after coming to the South Shore for the sixth time to play in the country's most popular celebrity golf tournament.

"What a beautiful, beautiful place this is," Hoffman told the Tribune in a one-on-one interview, just steps away from Lake Tahoe. "And the course, it's got such a great layout and the big trees, you don't realize how tall some of them are until you try to hit over one. But the course conditions are always spectacular and the fans really seem to enjoy everything."

Hoffman walked into the press conference to Metallica's "Enter Sandman" and made a joke saying he preferred AC/DC's "Hell Bells," the song that played while he walked to the mound.

Hoffman kept a close eye on Iván "Pudge" Rodríguez last year during the celebrity tournament. Rodriguez was on the same path after being voted into the Hall.

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"He had a great time, but I could tell he was on edge," said Hoffman, who finished his career with 601 saves, second most to Yankees legendary closer Mariano Rivera. "He was just a couple of weeks away from going back to Cooperstown and that whole whirlwind of a week back in New York. I can anticipate a month out that I'll be in the same situation Pudge was in."

Hoffman said he is already waking up in the wee hours of the morning thinking about his speech and the induction ceremony that he'll share with Baseball Writers' Association of America electees Vladimir Guerrero, Chipper Jones, Jim Thome and Modern Baseball Era Committee electees Jack Morris and Alan Trammell. Hoffman will give his speech in front of thousands, including approximately 50 members already enshrined.

"It's getting close, I'm waking up in the middle of the night with ideas," said Hoffman, who has a six handicap and has 60/1 odds from Harrah's and Harveys sports books to win the celebrity tournament. "It's just a matter of putting that framework together, making it smooth, practicing and getting it ready. The excitement is building, but it's a good excitement. I know it's going to be nerve-wracking, but at the same time it will be a great opportunity to honor and talk about those people that helped me get to that point."

Hoffman said he uses the tournament in Tahoe to bring his family together for the week. Before the event begins, he takes in some concerts and enjoys all the festivities.

"It's family time," he said.

He uses his sons as his caddies during the weekend and they enjoy three hours together uninterrupted by any technology. His sons have fun with him when he hits poor shots and he jokingly blames them for bad reads.

He recalled a humorous incident his first year at the tournament that had everybody laughing.

He pulled out a driver on hole No. 1 when he should have used a 3-wood, he said, and promptly smacked it into the water.

And then he went into scramble mode because his two playing partners were in the middle of the fairway. He took his drop and turned to his son for the distance to the flag.

"He gave me the number of 186," Hoffman said. "This doesn't look like 186 but we're in a rush, so I get a club in hand. I pure it and I see everybody on the green kind of do this (he looks up like he's watching the ball sail over his head). I look at him and I said, 'What did you shoot that at?' He goes, 'Oh, sorry, I had 166. I told you 186.' I go, 'We gotta tighten it up here a little bit, otherwise it's going to be a long day.'"

Overall, Hoffman loves coming back to Tahoe year after year to compete, relax and enjoy the world-class destination. He's expected to finish mid-pack in the 90-player field, but he's working on his short game and likes playing with a new low-spin ball that helps control his sometimes banana-shaped tee shots.

The tournament takes place July 13-15.

"I've got a little bit of work to do around the greens, but my driving has been fine," Hoffman said. "I really like the new Titleist ball that has low spin so it controls the big slices I sometimes have. If I can putt and get it up and down, my scores will be OK. Overall, it's just a great event. American Century does a great job of giving back. They stand in front of their word. It's a great field and an opportunity to compete, albeit, not in the sport a lot of us are used to. But it's always fun to get the juices flowing."