On August 29, 1992, Jeff Hoffman, a pitcher for the Albany-Colonie Yankees, died at Binghamton General Hospital. He was 24, and had been discovered unconscious by a maid at the Holiday Inn-Arena about 4:15 p.m. that day.
The next day, Newsday reported:
Hoffman, who was 6-9 with a 4.09 ERA for the Double-A club, arrived at the hospital at 4:45 and was pronounced dead at 5:02. Hoffman has no children but his wife is pregnant.
Hoffman ate lunch with a teammate, Scott Holcomb, before returning to his room yesterday afternoon. Holcomb took an early bus to the ballpark, where Albany was scheduled to play Binghamton, while Hoffman stayed at the hotel and called the front desk to request extra towels. He was discovered by the maid who was delivering the towels. Albany-Colonie manager Dan Radison said: “There was no indication of sickness.”
Pitcher Mark Hutton was the last teammate to see Hoffman alive. Hutton said he borrowed a newspaper from Hoffman, then called his room before taking the second bus to the ballpark at 4 p.m. Hutton got no answer and didn’t see Hoffman on the bus, but figured he was at the park.
“He didn’t smoke, drink or take drugs,” Hutton said. “He was the healthiest human being you’ll know. Now he’s gone.”
Radison called the team together at the ballpark and told the players of Hoffman’s death. “There was definitely a sound of horror in the room,” Radison said. “That’s a terrible sound.”
Radison said Hoffman collapsed while playing baseball when he was 16 years old, but heart tests and a CAT scan revealed no problems. (Hoffman was later found to have died from cardiac arrhythmia, with an inflammation of the heart wall leading to an irregular heartbeat.)
Bill Livesey, director of scouting for the Yankees, said, “It’s a terrible, terrible tragedy. [This was] a young man with a family, that’s what we’re concerned with now . . . We’re really in shock.”
Hoffman, the Yankees’ 14th-round pick in the June 1988 draft, was 12-5 with a 2.87 ERA at Class A Prince William last year and 8-3 with a 1.47 ERA at Class A Greensboro in 1990.
Yankees manager Buck Showalter said: “I never managed him but I was aware he was a good-looking young pitcher. But that’s not the way to look at it. It just kind of puts things in perspective.”