On Monday at the 67th Annual Salute to the Champions dinner and ceremony at the Town and Country Convention Center, the San Diego Hall of Champions welcomed four new members to the Breitbard Hall of Fame.
The four included former San Diego Padres closer Trevor Hoffman, San Diego Sockers legend Brian Quinn, wrestler-football player Stephen Neal and the late Junior Seau, who was voted in posthumously a year early.
“(It’s) Certainly a tremendous honor for not only professional athletes in town, but amateur athletes,” Hoffman said. “With the wonderful things they do at the Hall (of Champions) throughout the year, it’s really special to be a part of that.”
The Breitbard Hall of Fame was created by Bob Breitbard in 1961 to honor the athletic achievements of native San Diegans or athletes who have excelled in San Diego and preserve sports heritage in San Diego according to Jesse Lovejoy, the Communications and Marketing Director at the San Diego Hall of Champions.
Former NFL linebacker and current NBC 7 sports director Jim Laslavic served as the master of ceremonies.
Though the night served as a commemoration of the athletic achievements of numerous professional and amateur athletes, guests could not help but remember Seau.
“Junior is a very special person,” Laslavic said. “He did so much for the community. What he did in San Diego, we kind of know. What he did in Oceanside is off the charts. Just a wonderful influence. It’s a shame we lost him the way that we did.”
“Playing against him wasn’t fun,” Neal said. “He was a wild card. He was going to go out there and he’s going to make some plays. You just hope you could reign him enough where he couldn’t ruin the whole game. He’s a special player and getting to play with him was real special because he was just such a motivational person and so inspirational. It was just great to be on the same team with him.”
Even Hoffman, another San Diego icon during the time of Junior’s career felt the magnitude of being honored with arguably the greatest Charger of all-time.
“I’m privileged to be in the class he’s going in with,” Hoffman said. “Anytime I go through Oceanside, I think of Junior and all the things he was able to accomplish here in San Diego. I’m blessed to be with him.”