Ed Hoffman, then an usher at Anaheim Stadium, would take a harmonica with him to Angel games. It was a precaution.
There were times over the years when singers failed to show up and Angel officials would need a replacement to sing the national anthem. They needed to only go to the aisle Hoffman was working.
"My dad was the ultimate pinch-hitter," said San Diego Padres pitcher Trevor Hoffman. "They literally call him off his post. They would come to him 15 minutes before the game and say, 'We need you.' He said, 'Give me five minutes.' He would use that harmonica to get the pitch right and go belt out the Star Spangled Banner."
For years, Ed Hoffman was known as the "singing usher." A former professional singer, he was an usher at the stadium for more than 20 years and was called on to sing the national anthem, both as a prearranged plan and a last-minute shuffle.
Hoffman died in January, 1995, at 83.
His three sons are involved in athletics. Trevor Hoffman is the Padres' closer. Glenn Hoffman played eight seasons for the Boston Red Sox, Dodgers and Angels and is minor league field coordinator for the Dodgers. Greg Hoffman is a teacher and was a successful basketball coach at Western High.
None of the sons sings.
"I just remember how much fun it was," Trevor Hoffman said. "My dad would come home from the post office and mom would make us an early dinner. Then we would all hop in the car and go to the stadium. We never knew if dad was going to sing or not. Then he would be down there in his usher uniform. It was awesome."
Ed Hoffman was a postal clerk in Anaheim when he began working at Anaheim Stadium, the usher job being more for fun than profit. His background, though, was on the stage. He had had his own group, "Eddie Hoffman and the Royal Guards."
"My dad wanted to be the next Enrico Caruso," Greg Hoffman said. "He grew up in South Dakota and took professional lessons. When he found out he couldn't be Caruso, he went into popular music."
Hoffman met his wife, Margurite, a dancer, at the Palladium in London. The two settled in Anaheim in 1958 and Hoffman continued to pursue his music career, which took him on the road.
"One time my dad came home and I was the one who opened the door," Greg Hoffman said. "I turned to my mom and asked, 'Who is that?' My dad quit right there and went down and applied at the post office."
But he kept singing.
It was in 1976 that Angel officials found themselves in a jam.
"I had sung the national anthem for the Buena Park American Legion, so people knew that I did it," Ed Hoffman said in 1986. "One management fellow came along and asked if I would like to sing it. I said, 'Sure, I'd love to. When?' And he said, 'In about five minutes.' "
But his favorite performance was in Boston, not Anaheim. In 1981, Glenn Hoffman had a clause in his contract that his father would sing the national anthem on opening day in Fenway Park.
"I was thrilled," Ed Hoffman said in 1986. "And after I had finished, Glenn walked over and put his arm around me. I can't tell you how wonderful that felt."
Said former Angel official Tom Seeberg: "Ed was our ace who could come in from the cold."