- Bats Both, Throws Right
Roland Hoffmann was one of the top German baseball players of the 20th Century. In 1994, he was inducted into the German Baseball Hall of Fame.
Hoffmann picked up baseball from US troops stationed in the country after World War II. He debuted for Germany in the 1955 European Championship, when they won Bronze; he contributed 3 hits in 11 at-bats and drove in one run. In the 1956 European Championship, Roland was just 3 for 15 with 8 strikeouts. During the 1957 European Championship, he only made two appearances even though the event was held in his birthplace of Mannheim and Germany had its best finish of the century, earning Silver.
In the 1958 European Championship, the switch-hitting catcher was 0 for 9 with 3 walks and 6 strikeouts as Germany took Bronze. He went 0 for 4 in the 1960 European Championship. In the 1962 European Championship, the 26-year-old hit .250/.316/.438. During the 1965 European Championship, he went 2 for 15 for the Bronze Medalists.
Hoffmann dazzled during the 1967 European Championship, going 7 for 15 with a double, triple, two home runs, 3 steals, 5 runs and 9 RBI in just four games. The amazing performance earned him MVP honors even though Germany finished third. In the 1969 European Championship, he went 2 for 13, but with 4 walks and 5 runs in four games.
Roland hit .400/.429/.500 in the 1971 European Championship, with 5 runs and 5 RBI in five games. In the 1972 Amateur World Series, the first Amateur World Series Germany qualified for, the 36-year-old batted .245/.260/.265, clearly the top hitter on the winless squad, 35 OPS points ahead of runner-up Claus Helmig. Hoffmann apparently was no longer playing strictly catcher as he made 11 errors and had 37 assists in 15 games, numbers more befitting an infielder. There are presently no statistics available for the 1973 FEMBA Amateur World Series to tell how Hoffmann did other than that he played in 10 games, none of which were won by West Germany.
In the 1975 European Championship, Hoffmann made his final appearance in a European Championship, 20 years after his debut. He showed he still had hit, going 12 for 26 (.462) with 5 RBI in six games. He pitched one game in the 1984 European Championship B-Pool. From 1982-1993, Hoffmann was a coach for the German national team, leading them in one of the darker periods of German baseball, after the players who learned from US soldiers after the War retired and before the new generation of quality players had emerged. He managed Germany in the 1986 European B-Level Championship.
Through 2008, Hoffmann ranks among the all-time German national team leaders in numerous statistics, despite the missing 10 games of stats from the 1973 Amateur World Series. He is tied with Claus Helmig and Jürgen Helmig for the most games (67), is second with 33 RBI, leads with 53 hits, is 8th with 30 runs, is 1st with 46 strikeouts, is second to Stephan Jäger with 14 steals and leads with 31 errors.
In 1994, he was elected to the German Baseball Hall of Fame.