Bobby Hofman: Former New York Giants Player & Yogi Berra's Childhood Friend (1949-1957)

Robert George Hofman
was born October 5, 1925, in St. Louis, Missouri. Hofman grew up playing baseball with Yogi Berra & Joe Garagiola on the fields of the Italian neighborhood known as the Hill in St. Louis, Missouri.

Bobby Hofman & Lawdy Berra (as he was known then- due to his mother's broken English pronunciation of Larry) were teammates together in American Legion ball.

One day while playing American Legion ball, on a field where there were no dugouts, Lawrence Peter Berra was sitting cross legged on the floor, with his arms folded. 

Hofman & Berra's friend said "Hey You look like a yogi" sitting there like that. The kids had recently seen a travel log about India featuring the yogis. The name stuck & the rest is history. 

Throughout time, articles have cited Bobby Hofman getting the credit for giving Lawrence Peter Berra the nickname Yogi. But in 1961 in his autobiography Berra himself gives Jack Mguire the credit.

In high school, Hofman was teammates with future big leaguer's Roy Sievers, Jim Goodwin, Bobby Wiesler & future Orioles manager, Earl Weaver.

World War II Veteran: He quit high school to play baseball but enlisted in the US Army at Jefferson Barracks. He served two years in the infantry, including time in France & Germany. Hofman fought at the Battle of the Bulge.

Hofman was an all-around infielder, getting signed by the New York Giants as an amateur free agent in 1946. He came up briefly in 1949 hitting only .208 in 19 games. He went back to the minors for two years then returned to the Giants in 1952 batting .286 in just 32 games.

For the next five years he was mostly as a pinch hitter as well as a utility infielder. Hoffman was an excellent pinch hitter, hitting nine career pinch hit home runs. 

On May 5th, 1953, in the Polo Grounds, Hofman came to bat as a pinch hitter in 2-2 tie game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He hit a dramatic walk off HR to win the game. 

In 1953 he had a career high 12 HRs & 34 RBIs playing in only 74 games (169 at bats) mostly at third base. 

1954 NY Giants Championship Team: He again was a key pinch hitter and reserve infielder during the 1954 Championship season. 

On May 2nd, the Giants were playing at his hometown of St. Louis. With family & friends in the
crowd, Hofman hit a three run HR off Royce Lint, helping New York in a 9-8 win. 

Walk Off HR: On May 12th at the Polo Grounds, Hofman came to bat as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the 9th inning with New York down 1-0. He hit a walk off HR off the Reds Harry Perkowski, for a 2-1 win.

Om August 17th, he had a big three day, hitting two HRs & driving in four in a 8-3 win over the Phillies. Two days later he hit another HR & drove in two runs in Ruben Gomez's shout out over the Phillies.

Grand Slam:
On September 24th, he hit a grand slam off Johnny Podres to lead his team to beat the Brooklyn Dodgers 5-2 in the Polo Grounds. In this series the Giants eliminated the Dodgers & clinched the NL Title.

Family: The day after the regular season ended, Bobby marred his wife Ruth in Clifton, New Jersey. Two days later he was in the World Series.

In 71 games of the regular season, Hofman batted .224 with 8 HRs 5 doubles & 30 RBIs. He did not play in the World Series. 

After the Championship: In 1955 he played a career high 96 games with 10 HRs, 28 RBIs and a
.266 batting average. He even tried a hand at catcher, playing 19 games behind the plate that season. He only appeared in 47 games the next year. 

In 1957 he appeared in just two games during the Giants last season in New York.

In his seven-year career he played in 341 games batting .248 with 166 hits 32 HRs 22 doubles 6 triples a .322 on base % & 101 RBIs. 

The versatile fielder played 85 games at short (.969 fielding %) 49 games at first (.997 fielding%) 45 games at third (.899 fielding%) & 26 games behind the plate (.100 fielding%).

Retirement: After his playing days in 1965, he was hired as a coach for the Kansas City A's, by owner Charlie Finley.  For a short time Hofman also served as the A's traveling secretary for the controversial owner. 

The next year, he worked under his old teammate Alvin Dark, who managed the Kansas City A’s (1966-1967).  He & Dark were fired by Finley in August 1967. Hofman moved on to the Washington Senators. He returned to Oakland only to be fired again in 1970. He went to coach in Cleveland under Dark once again through 1972.

In 1973 he managed the Braves AA Richmond team then had to step down due to health issues. His health improved & by 24 games into the 1974 season he was coaching under Alvin Dark back with the A's, who would win their third straight championship that year. He coached there through 1975 then served two more years as traveling secretary.

Passing: He passed away of cancer on April 7th, 1994, in Chesterfield, Missouri at the age of 68. He was survived by a wife and his daughter.

Family: Bobby is the nephew of "Circus" Solly Hofman who played for three Chicago Cubs World Series teams from 1903 to 1912.

Solly was mostly an outfielder who played 14 seasons in the big leagues: with the Cubs (1904-1912 / 1916) Pittsburgh Pirates (1903 / 1912-1914) & the Buffalo Blues (1915). 

Solly was a career .269 hitter with 1095 hits 162 doubles 60 triples 19 HRs 208 stolen bases & 495 RBIs.


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