Three-hundred and eighty-seven years after a British poet wrote those famous words, the bell tolled one last time on Sunday at 12:37 p.m. PT for Trevor Hoffman.PETCO Park became Area 51, as the iconic closer's uniform number disappeared forever, retired in perpetuity by his devoted primary team as members of his original team watched and joined the tribute.
At the end of an hour-long ceremony, which veered from amusing to poignant and climaxed with sobs as his late father's taped image and voice rendered the national anthem, Hoffman responded with typical humility.
"No one person deserves all this. We don't do things for accolades. It's a dream come true to have this bestowed upon you," Hoffman said. "This is amazing."
So was the playing career, and is the fiber and character, of the man San Diego stopped to honor. San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders declared it "Trevor Hoffman Day." The Padres declared "No. 51" forever off limits. And dozens of former tutors and teammates declared their respect and affection for Hoffman by appearing as surprise guests at this party.
As the festivities got under way on a stage erected between the mound and second base, emcee Ted Leitner declared, "This is your life," and the cliched reference to the old television show for a change was very appropriate.
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