Mike's Dad, Jeff Trout, was drafted by the Twins in the 5th round in 1983, out of the University of Delaware. Jeff played four seasons in the minors at second base and third base. But he won't claim credit for his son's success.
"Mike's a great kid," Jeff Trout said. "He's a great player, but he's a better person. That's always been our goal as parents, to raise kids that are good people and let their natural talents take them wherever."
Trout is from a solid family background. His parents taught him the value of accountability and hard work.
Trout's hometown, Millville, New Jersey, used to be a glassmaking town, but it was hit by the same economic forces that have emptied manufacturing towns throughout the U.S., with many of the jobs being outsourced. Now Millville is known as a Mike Trout-making town.
In 2008, the Trouts moved into a home on the very outskirts of Millville, in a two-story house that sits on nearly four acres in Deerfield Township.
Upstairs is the bed Mike still sleeps in during the offseason—next door to his brother, Tyler, who's in his final year at Rutgers Law School. Downstairs is the basement he turned into his own personal "man cave," complete with a wet bar, mini fridge, ping-pong table, PlayStation 3 and deer-hunting rifles.
His mother, Debbie, has taken on the role of Mike's business manager, per se, teaming with agent Craig Landis to schedule all of his photo shoots and appearances and interviews.
"Thank God I retired in June," says Debbie, whose husband, Jeff, is retiring after 25 years of teaching.
"This," Jeff adds, "is like running a corporation now."
Trout's athleticism and competitive drive are boundless. He can dunk a basketball with ease. He shoots in the 90s during occasional rounds of golf, but hits his drives into neighboring counties. He’s good at table tennis and formidable at video games, and rolled a personal high of 286 in bowling. He still laments the 300 game that got away.
Trout has a football body at 6-foot-1 and 217 pounds. An all-conference basketball player in high school as well, he played quarterback and safety as a freshman in high school and could have been a Division I player, according to his dad, a longtime history teacher and baseball and football coach at Millville High.
"He was so fearless on the field, as the football coach, I got so worried about what was going on," Jeff Trout said. "He'd get dinged up.
"So I just told him 'Mike, you ought to spend one of these seasons just hitting the weights and lifting. I don't care what sport you pick.' It's great to be a three-sport guy and everything. But I was trying to encourage him, hoping he would back away from football a little bit. And he did."
After banging up his ankle his freshman year of football, he knew baseball was a better career choice.
"Since he was about seven or eight years old, I knew he was a special baseball player," said Jeff Trout, who played four seasons as an infielder in the Twins system, reaching Double-A. "He stood out basically everywhere he played, every step of the way athletically.
"The other good thing about Mike is that he has always enjoyed working at the game also. It was never a burdensome thing to go out and take BP, get groundballs and flyballs hit to him, stuff like that." (Jeff Johnson-Baseball America-7/08/10)
In high school, Mike threw a no-hitter against Egg Harbor Township. He was a pitcher and short stop during his high school years.
In 2009, Trout graduated from Millville High School in New Jersey, having hit .531 with 18 home runs and 45 runs batted in in 26 games. He struck out only 17 times in all four years. He committed to East Carolina University on a baseball scholarship.
But instead Michael signed with the Angels on July 1, 2009, for a reported bonus of $1.2 million, via scout Greg Morhardt.
Trout was signed by scout Greg "Mo" Morhardt, whose roommate for spring training one year and his teammate at Double-A Orlando was Jeff Trout. He remembered Trout as an undersized second baseman who knew how to hit and got every ounce out of his ability. Mike was his son.
Mike has solid makeup. And he has speed, athleticism and plays the game the right way and has fun doing it.
He cares more about the team than he does himself.
Trout is hard-nosed and aggressive on the field. He is a bulldog. But he is also grounded, and a team player. Good days or bad, Mike is always the same.
In September 2009, Trout was rated the top prospect in the Gulf Coast League by Baseball America.
In the spring of 2010, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Mike as the third best prospect in the Angels' organization. They moved him up to the #1 prospect in the Angels' farm system in the winter before both 2011 and 2012 spring training camps opened.
The Cedar Rapids Kernels have a promotional night each season that's sponsored by a local auto dealer.
The dealership gives away three used cars to random fans, and one of the winners during the 2010 season was Debbie Trout, the mother of Kernels outfielder Mike Trout. The family just happened to be visiting Iowa from their home in New Jersey.
"We donated it back to the Kernels," said Jeff Trout, Mike's dad. "I think one of the relief pitchers has it. Maybe Jon Bachanov. It's going to continue to be a Kernels family car. Each year when they come into town, someone will get it." (Jeff Johnson-Baseball America-7/08/10)
In 2010, Trout was named the Midwest League's #1 prospect and the California League's best prospect by Baseball America, while winning the league MVP award as well as the batting and on-base titles, and managers rated him the best hitter, best and fastest runner, best defensive outfielder and most exciting player in the league.
Also, Mike was selected as the recipient of the 51st annual J.G. Taylor Spink Award as the Topps/Minor League Player of the Year. He is the youngest player to win the award at 19 years, two months.
Andruw Jones was 19 years, six months old when he was named Topps/Minor League Player of the Year in 1996.
October 2010: In nine games in the Pan-Am qualifying tournament, Team USA finishing tied for third with a 7-1 record. Trout led the team in hits with 14—and demonstrated his developing power with three homers and seven RBIs, along with two doubles and a triple for a .675 slugging percentage. He also drew three walks for a .395 on-base percentage, scoring 10 runs.
In the spring of 2011, Trout, who was 19, arrived at the Angels' major league camp. One night a group of nine veterans invited him to join them at a swanky steak house in Scottsdale. Great heaps of food kept coming to the table, as did bottles of fine wine. Trout couldn't believe his great fortune. Only two years earlier he was in high school watching these guys on TV. He had a great time—until pitcher Jered Weaver walked up to him and said, "You're the million-dollar baby. You're going to pay for it."
Mike looked at the bill: $1,800. He excused himself and went to the rest room, where he pulled out his cell phone and made a call.
"Mom? They're going to stick me with an $1,800 bill. Do I have enough money in my account?"
"Mike, what are you talking about? Just use your card."
The next morning, there was a large Tonka dump truck parked in Trout's locker. It was filled with 7,200 quarters.
- A television analyst referred to Mark Trumbo and Mike Trout as "T 'n T"—a dynamite combination.
In 2012, the Angels stumbled out of the gate to an 18-25 record through May 21, 2012. It was then that the 2012 TNT boys sparked an eight-game winning streak that put the Angels back into contention—and rekindled an old nickname.
In June 2012, Angels manager Mike Scioscia was asked if he thought about reeling in the frenetic play of Trout.
"I really think that when you play aggressively, you have a natural mechanism that protects you," Scioscia said of Trout, who often flies into walls, etc. "If you try to put a governor on him, try to have him slide gingerly or not go as hard, I think that puts him more at risk. You can get in an awkward position if you try to take your athletic ability out of the equation."
In 2012, Trout was named the American League's Rookie of the Year. And it was a unanimous vote of all 28 members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
As of the offseason before 2013 spring training, Mike was still living at home with Mom and Dad.
"A lot of my teammates make fun of me, because I still live with my parents," Trout said. "Eventually I'll get a house. But I'm real close to my parents."
Mike's dad says his son is even quiet at home. "He's a man of very few words," his dad says. "He gives those one-liners, those cliches. Don't take it personally. It's the same with us."
- In January 2013, GQ Magazine did a photo shoot at the house for their April issue. Eastbay did the same for their catalog at a local gym. And in the spring, Mike will grace the covers of Men's Health and ESPN The Magazine—this time alongside Triple Crown winner and MVP Miguel Cabrera.
Nike secured Mike to a four-year contract in December. J&J Snack Foods plans to put him on the back of their SuperPretzel box. And Subway will include him in a commercial that will air during Sunday's Super Bowl.
Over the past few months, Mike's parents have learned a lot of things on the fly. They've learned that the memorabilia sent to the house doesn't get signed. Only what's sent directly to Angel Stadium.
They've learned not to get spooked when cars roll around their cul-de-sac with their cameras out—which the neighbors have tried to minimize by saying the Trouts don't live there anymore. They've learned to laugh it off when people call Mike's sister's house asking about her brother, or when four teenage girls roll up in a golf cart chanting his name.
Mostly, they've learned the art of saying no.
"It's funny, because I understand that they're fans, and that's great," Debbie says. "I love his fan base and everything like that. But there's only one of Mike, and there's all these people that just want one little piece of him."
Trout was raised by a tight-knit family and a hard-nosed, baseball-playing father. So he is clean cut and perceivably, well, vanilla. He's respectful yet distant; at ease in front of sold-out stadiums but jittery behind a microphone and devoid of introspection.
A lot has changed around Millville for Mike. In December 2012, when he went to the movies, word spread, and by the time he stepped out, hundreds of people were waiting in the parking lot for an autograph. Same thing happened the last time he tried to play a round of golf with some friends and his high school sweetheart. Or the last time he walked into Cuts On High for a haircut. Or the last time he tried to eat his hamburgers at Jim's Lunch.
Simply put, Mike Trout can no longer be Mikey from Millville. It's just not that simple anymore. "I wish I could tell you that everything's the same, that he can go everywhere he wants to go, but it's not the case," says Shannon, who used to live next door to the Trouts and would dress up as Santa Claus for their three kids.
"Mikey Trout is a rock star. He has hit rock-star status here. To the close circle of friends, his friends, he's still Mikey Trout. But to a lot of folks, he's that Major League Baseball player, he's the Rookie of the Year. They're awestruck. They want to get close to Mikey. They want to be able to tell people, 'Not only is he from my hometown, I know Mikey and he knows me.' So, it's changed quite a bit." (Alden Gonzalez-MLB.com-1/31/12)
Trout played the 2012 season at 220 pounds. Then, after an offseason regimen of twice-daily workouts, he showed up at 2013 spring training at 240 pounds.
- March 12, 2013: Trout had played only one full season in the big leagues, but the Milville, New Jersey native's high school was renaming its baseball field after him. The Millville Board of Education voted to change the name of Millville High's in honor of the 2012 American League rookie of the year.
In a way, the move is a thank-you to Trout. When he won the Players Choice Rookie of the Year Award, it came with a $20,000 donation to the charity of his choice. The 21-year-old outfielder sent the money to his school to renovate its field.
- May 21, 2013: Trout hit for the cycle. Considering all that Trout has done, it almost comes as a surprise that this was his first cycle. Trout had never achieved the feat, not in Little League or high school or anywhere else.
"It's just a dream come true," said Trout, who also expressed his excitement on Twitter, posting: "Appreciate all the love! Awesome night! #angels"
"To stand here after a night like this is definitely up there on my lists of personal [accomplishments]," he added. "Triple, double, home run and a single. It's tough to do, and hopefully, there's more to come."
"More to come" may seem like a lot to ask considering the record for cycles is only three—Bob Meusel, Babe Herman, and John Reilly each did it three times. (William Boor-MLB.com-5/23/13)
In August, 2013, Mike and his parents tried to sneak out the side of the New York Palace Hotel by having a cab back into a parking garage. Six or seven young men spotted Trout and with pens and baseballs in hand, pursued his car for 10 blocks. The stoplights allowed them to keep up until the cab stopped at a Times Square eatery.
"They were chasing us through the city, knocking on the window of the cab," said Debbie Trout, Mike's mom. "You know how traffic is there. It was crazy."
The men were rewarded when Trout signed after dinner, two hours later. "They never let go," Trout said with a chuckle. "You want it that bad, you get it."
September 17, 2013: Trout—at 22 years, 40 days old—became the second-youngest player in Major League history with 25-plus homers and 30-plus steals in one season, with the youngest being himself during the 2012 season.
He's also the first player in American League history with 25 homers, 30 steals, and 100 walks.
October 2013: Trout was named Baseball America's Player of the Year.
Trout's favorites:Hobbies: Golf, fishing, and huntingMovie: Happy GilmoreActor: Adam SandlerTV Show: CSI MiamiMusic: CountryFood: SteakPerson in history I'd like to meet: Babe RuthPlayers, past and present, I'd pay to watch: Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera, today. Pedro Martinez from the past.If not a baseball player, I'd have been: A school teacher.
Trout still can't believe how fast this is all happening. First, he was the teenager very few veterans knew, trying to find his way on the Angels' roster and looking to carve a spot for himself in this game. Now, he is in many ways the most popular player in baseball—the guy for whom hundreds of fans line up to see at an airport, the one doing seven-hour photo shoots with Nike, and the player at least one U.S. president refers to in speeches.
Trout spent the offseason outdoors, in the woods or on a boat, as always. He caught a killer wahoo and barracuda with his father in Saint Lucia, attended a Sixers game against the Heat to watch LeBron James (the two have yet to meet) learned to actually enjoy those extensive photo shoots and gracefully embraced all the attention he continued to receive. "If I'm sitting there at my locker at the start of spring and nobody's coming over," Trout said, "that means I'm not doing something right."
And while discussing the farm bill Congress had recently passed, President Barack Obama wanted to express how versatile it was, so he said: "It's like Mike Trout, for those of you who know baseball. It's somebody who's got a lot of tools and multitasks."Trout was rabbit hunting when Obama said that, and his phone instantly began buzzing in his pocket.
"I really can't explain just the last couple years of my life," Trout said. "It's been great. Having fun doing it. That's what I wanted to be as a kid growing up, and I'm taking full advantage of it." (Gonzalez - mlb.com - 02/19/14)
Derek Jeter doesn't like the term "farewell tour," and he doesn't believe "hype" is an accurate description for what surrounds Mike Trout. "I don't like the word hype around him," Jeter said. "It's all deserved. He can do everything. He can beat you in every way."
Trout grew up a Phillies fan in South New Jersey, but he idolized Jeter while growing up a shortstop, and told Jeter as much when the two met during the 2012 All-Star Game in Kansas City. "It makes you feel good as a player when you have guys that come up and appreciate how you play the game, but he has a very, very bright future," Jeter said of Trout. "He's got a bright present, too."
Bright enough that the world has basically identified Trout as the new face of baseball; as the guy who will take the proverbial torch from Jeter and be the guy fans most identify with in this game. Asked what sticks out most about Trout, Jeter said, "I don't think you pick one thing."
"It seems like he has a desire to keep improving," Jeter added. "He doesn't play the game like he knows he has it made. He plays hard. He runs every ball out, which when you've had the success like he's had for a couple of years, you like to see that. You like to see guys who play the game the right way." (Gonzalez - mlb.com - 5/5/14)
Trout's mind was blown in June 2014. Nike came up with a signature cleat for him, the Nike Lunar Vapor Trout, that the fleet outfielder and representatives from the famed sports equipment and apparel company were showing off.
The shoe was newsworthy in itself: a red and fluorescent yellow wonder of aerodynamics that had been almost two years in the making after numerous consultations between Trout and a team of more than 30 biomechanics experts, designers and innovators working in concert at Nike's Oregon headquarters.
The moment was significant, too, in the annals of sports and pop culture. Trout became only the second baseball player (Ken Griffey Jr. was the first) to have his very own signature shoe line with Nike. That's a big deal in a big industry, and it's a big deal for a big-time talent like Trout.
"Everything that I wanted in a shoe, they made it happen," Trout said after entering a room full of media members to the strains of laid-back electronic dance music while a video of his on-the-field highlights played. "Now that it's here, it just gives me chills looking at it right now. I mean, I'm speechless."
Trout said when he was approached by Nike a few years ago, he told the shoe's designer, Matthew Pauk, and Nike's global product line manager for baseball cleats, former independent league outfielder Cameron Shick, that his goals for the ideal Mike Trout cleat were simple.
"Speed is my game," Trout said. "I wanted to take it to the next level." That meant it had to be comfortable and it had to be lightweight, and, as Pauk described, it also had to adhere to perhaps the most elusive and difficult challenge of all when trying to satisfy an athlete in his early 20s.
"He always leaves us with a little sound bite when we leave him," Pauk said. "Like, 'If I look good, I play good.' And, 'Make it hot.'"
They did, and Trout was effusive in his praise for the work of Pauk and Shick in doing just that. The look of the shoe turns heads, to begin with, with the aerodynamic ridges on the outside of the cleat that almost look like the scales on, well, a trout.
The human Trout also raved about the comfort, which is achieved primarily with the lightweight Nike Lunarlon foam midsole, the "booty" concept in which the ankle is surrounded by a form-fitting sheath after the foot goes into the shoe, a four-way stretch mesh inner sleeve, and the Nike Flywire technology that enables the foot to be "locked down" with cables that go from the top of the cleat to the split Pebax speed plate on the bottom.
The result is a cleat that Trout and his Nike pals are sure will leave vapor trails all over the fields of the American League for years to come. (Miller - mlb.com 6/20/14)
Dan Richter is the athletic trainer at Millville High School and began working with Trout in 2009. He continues to work with Trout in the offseason. And on June 20, 2014, he gave media members a bit of a taste of what Trout goes through in an average day's workout on the field.
Sprints, agility drills, running and leaping at the wall, and endurance and core exercises were demonstrated, with everyone decked out in more of the Trout Nike baseball line gear, including sliding shorts and socks and Dri-FIT caps with the new Nike baseball logo.
"It's been great to work with him because he's such a great athlete, and he's such a unique athlete," Richter said. "I'm just happy to be along for the ride."
"We've been able to push the needle with the aesthetic," Pauk said. "You look at Mike Trout on the field, and he plays the game like nobody else plays the game, so … it's got to be a shoe that has never looked like anything we've done in baseball before." (Miller - mlb.com 6/20/14)
Trout seems not to have lost an ounce of that enthusiasm and wonder. He's clearly doing something he loves, and much like Tony Gwynn once did, Trout arrives at the ballpark seemingly anxious to find out what the day has in store for him.
Trout's at-bats have become must-watch television, but to watch only his at-bats would be to risk missing some of the best parts of his game. He's one of the players who is just as entertaining on defense as he is standing in the batter's box.
Trout is the whole package, and we're the lucky ones who've gotten in on the ground floor of his career. He's still just 22 years old and just passed the 1,500-mark in career at-bats. There's going to be so much more of Mike Trout to enjoy in the years ahead.
So let's all pay attention. Let's appreciate what we're seeing, how special this kid is and how extraordinary it is to watch Trout do pretty much everything. Someday, we'll be able to tell fans, yep, we saw it early on, knew the kid was different. He's one of the players who'll help define this generation of baseball, and aren't we the lucky ones? (Justice - mlb.com - 6/25/14)
Trout was told early on April 13, 2015, that later in the day he'd be playing his 500th career game in the Major Leagues, and for one of the few times in his young life, he was caught off guard.
"Is it really 500?" Trout said. "How 'bout that." It came quick. Trout got there at 23 years and 249 days old. He had already been a three-time All-Star, had won the American League Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player Awards unanimously, and had put himself in some historic company.
The latest: Trout is one of five players since 1914 to score at least 375 runs and hit at least 95 homers in his first 500 games, joining Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Chuck Klein, and Albert Pujols.
"That is pretty good company," he said. "I just go out there and try to play the game; I don't try to think about numbers too much. But when you're in the company with such great guys, it definitely feels special. Especially with Albert, my teammate. That's pretty cool."
Trout already has 102 stolen bases, which none of the aforementioned players even came close to 100 steals within their first 500 games, a testament to the dynamic skills that have made Trout so unique.
"It's definitely gone quick," said Trout. "You get so excited, and have so much fun doing it, time flies." (Gonzalez - mlb.com - 4/13/15)
Mike continued to amaze in April 2015 when he become the youngest player ever to record 100 home runs and 100 stolen bases.
Both of Trout's homers on April 17—a two-run shot off Roberto Hernandez and a three-run shot off Chad Qualls—in the eighth—came with two strikes. It's all about his mindset.
"When I get aggressive early in the count," Trout said, "it gets me ready for later pitches in the at-bat, as opposed to just letting one go by."
With 104 stolen bases, Trout hit his 100th home run at 23 years and 253 days old, surpassing Alex Rodriguez (23 years and 309 days old in 1999) as the youngest player to reach the 100/100 milestone.
"Mike has always had a two-strike approach," manager Mike Scioscia said. "You see him choke up a bit, let the ball get a little deeper."
"The guy is unbelievable," Angels starterJered Weaversaid. "Nothing he does surprises me anymore. He's doing things that nobody has ever done before. It's awesome to see. It's fun to watch. I always tell everybody that what he does on the field is what it is, but what impresses me even more is how he goes about it off the field. He stays humble. He's a little kid playing a grown man's game." (Gonzalez - mlb.com - 4/18/15)
In 2010, one scout compared the dynamic Angels outfielder to Mickey Mantle . . . way back when Trout was at Class-A Cedar Rapids.
David Mantle said in a segment for MLB Network, "I'm a baseball fan. When I want to see someone playing like Mickey Mantle, I can pull out the home movies. Or I can just watch this kid with the Angels, Mike Trout. Like dad, he's got all the tools. He can run. He can field. And he can hit. Boy, can he hit."
Statistically, there's no doubt that Trout stacks up with Mantle so far in his young career. Baseball-Reference.com lists Mantle as Trout's No. 1 comparable through his age-22 season.
Take a look at the numbers: Trout, 2012-14, age 20-22: .311/.403/.561, 93 HR, 291 RBIs, 98 SBMantle, 1952-54, age 20-22: .303/.400/.518, 71 HR, 281 RBIs, 17 SB
"Like my dad, Mike Trout isn't just good. He's compelling and exciting to watch. So if you're a baseball fan, you've got a chance to see a modern-day Mickey Mantle in center at Yankee Stadium with your own eyes," David Mantle said on MLB Network. "Just be sure to call him Mike, because the kid has clearly made a name for himself. As for the pinstripes, those you're just going to have to imagine." (Berry - mlb.com - 6/5/15)
Trout experimented with switch-hitting because of his father, a Minor League player. Though Trout never tried it out in game action, only showing off for scouts when they asked before games and during batting practice, he does have one highlight as a lefty. Said Trout: "I actually beat my high school team in home-run derby lefthanded. They made me hit left-handed. They told me I had to hit lefty or I couldn't play."
Trout was selected to play in the 2015 All-Star Game. And he was named MVP of the game, due mostly for his leadoff home run to start the game, won by the AL 6-3. Mike also was the MVP of the 2014 All Star Game.
The sun was setting on August 7, 2015, game when an unusual, sing-songy chant broke out from the center-field seats at Angel Stadium. Ha-ppy birth-day to you. Ha-ppy birth-day to you. Ha-ppy birth-day, Mike Trooout …
Trout smiled, looked over, lifted his glove in acknowledgement and heard his personal cheering section roar. Afterward, he said, "It gave me the chills." So, Trout gave those chills right back.Moments after getting serenaded by his home fans, the superstar center fielder turned on a 97-mph fastball from Orioles starter Kevin Gausman and lifted it over the left-center-field fence for his Major League-leading 33rd home run. It marked the third time Trout has homered in the four birthdays he has had in the big leagues, and it set the tone for a wild 8-4 Angels win. He also has homered in the All-Star Game, in walk-off fashion immediately after the All-Star Game, against Felix Hernandez in his first at-bat of the season (two years in a row) and on his mom's birthday (twice in the same game). He has a knack for this sort of thing.
"Who is surprised?" Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun said. "I guess birthdays give him a little bit more juice. I mean he's a year older now, so he's getting his old-man strength." Trout's two other birthday homers came in 2012 and 2013, and they were both his 20th of the season. The older he gets, the more pronounced his power becomes."But his approach and his swing is really more set for gap-to-gap and using the whole field and letting the ball get deep," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "It just shows how short and quick and strong he is that he can have that approach but still be able to hit the ball out of the park at the rate he does." (Gonzalez - mlb.com - 8/7/15)