Tom Gregory, his high school basketball coach, gave him an autographed picture from his own mentor. "To Trevor Hoffman," it reads. "The true strength of a person's character is the manner in which they react to victory and defeat. Sincerely, John Wooden."
The clouds began to lift.
Then at 6:30 on the morning of Oct. 22 the phone rang. It was a reverse 911 call with an urgent message: Get out of the house now. Wildfires that would eventually destroy about 500,000 acres and some 1,500 homes in Southern California were heading across a canyon for his neighborhood. There was no time to wait, not with the fire stoked by winds gusting up to 90 miles per hour. Hoffman, his wife and their boys began driving north to stay with family in Orange County.
A home up the street was damaged, but most of the homes, including the Hoffmans', were left unscathed thanks to emergency work by a strike force of firefighters. "We were lucky," Hoffman said.
What would you do if you had to leave your home immediately, not knowing if it would still be there when you came back? What would you take with you?
Hoffman grabbed some family photographs off the walls. Videos of the kids. That was it. "No memorabilia," he said. "No baseball things.
"I know this: Baseball is important, but that is not who you are. Your true identity is found in what kind of dad and husband and friend you are."
The Long, Strange Summer of Barry
THEY HATED him. Really, they did. Still, they couldn't help themselves. For Dodgers fans the only thing worse than seeing Barry Bonds break the home run record in L.A. was seeing him not do it.
The great villain from the north arrived on Tuesday, July 31, stuck on 754, and all of L.A. fought to be the first to tell him he sucked. Anyone who knew anyone was begging for a ticket, and those who succeeded broke SoCal protocol by trying to arrive on time. It was mayhem. Traffic stalled outside Chavez Ravine, choppers flying overhead, fashionable women hurrying unfashionably to make it before the first Barry at bat.