Baseball standout struggles with life-changing decision

By: Nathan Shoup ’13

Hoffman loads up for a pitch during the three-game series against Pacific in April. It was the last home series in Hoffman’s career. He retires with a career batting average of .364.

In his first two years at Pacific Lutheran University he earned first team all-conference honors as a baseball player. But his greatest success may have been off the field.

Junior Jacob Hoffman is the owner of a 3.75 grade point average, majoring in economics while taking prerequisites to enter physical therapy school.

Something had to give.

“There was a noticeable difference in my grade point average in the spring versus the fall,” Hoffman said.

The baseball season takes place in the spring.

On the baseball field Hoffman hit .390 his freshman season. Only two other players in the conference owned higher batting averages. In one of the final games of his freshman campaign, Hoffman’s career took a significant turn.

Leading off first base, he jammed his shoulder diving back to the base when the opposing pitcher threw over to prevent the speedy, 6 foot- 4 inch Hoffman from swooping second base.

Hoffman tore the labrum in his throwing shoulder.

The injury ended his season and forced Hoffman to move into the designated hitter role in his sophomore season because he still could not throw. The designated hitter bats for the pitcher but does not play in the field.

“I got sick of it for sure,” Hoffman said. “Practice just wasn’t as fun when I was so limited.”

One year later, Hoffman quit the game that had consumed his life since he started playing when he was 12.

The combination of school, injury and the time commitment required of collegiate baseball, all played a major role in the decision.

Hoffman informed PLU’s head baseball coach Geoff Loomis in May that he would not return for a junior season.

Loomis encouraged Hoffman to think about the decision over the summer. But Hoffman’s mind was made up.

“I just needed a break.”

Hoffman studies for an anatomy exam Tuesday on the third floor of Mortvet Library. Hoffman said he frequents the library. Quitting baseball allows Hoffman to study in the library during more regular hours.

Hoffman started thinking about retiring at the start of his sophomore season when he struggled to swing a bat two weeks before the season began.

The only person he told was his girlfriend.

Hoffman’s parents were even left in the dark about his decision until hours before their son’s meeting with Loomis.

“They were fine with it but they were shocked.”

Despite the internal dialogue about quitting the game, Hoffman hit .344 his sophomore season – the tenth highest batting average in the Northwest Conference.

“We are obviously going to miss his bat in the lineup,” former teammate Jacob Olsufka said. “I think he had the talent and the track record to have a shot for conference player of the year.”

The PLU baseball team started fall practices Oct. 15 but Hoffman remains content with his decision.

“I’m going to go to bed before midnight and not fall asleep in class.”

Hoffman said he is spending too much money to attend PLU and have to fight to stay awake in class due to long practices.

“I have no regrets, I feel good about the decision.”

Categories: Other

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