NEW YORK, NY – By now, Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout is a household name to baseball fans. Prior to his incredible success with the West Coast club, he was one of New Jersey’s finest high school baseball players.
Trout, who is nicknamed The Millville Meteor after his New Jersey hometown reflected on his amateur baseball career in an interview with TAP into during a four-game series against the Yankees in New York this week.
His father, Jeff, a former professional baseball player in the Minnesota Twins minor league system introduced him to the game and Trout was hooked.
“He created a way for me (to play baseball) at an early age and never really forced me to do anything,” said Trout. “I just always liked to play baseball.”
The four-time MLB All-Star center fielder and former American League MVP (2014) didn’t always roam the outfield grass, however. In fact, he dominated the game at the amateur level in many areas including pitching.
During his junior year at Millville Senior High School, he threw a no-hitter for the Thunderbolts against Egg Harbor Township in a regular season game while striking out 18 batters.
“That was such a good feeling because as a kid, you always wanted to pitch,” Trout recalled. “To throw a no-hitter was really special.”
The Thunderbolts made the state playoffs that year, but lost to Cherry Hill High School East Cougars in the sectional round. In that game, he was intentionally walked every time including one appearance with the bases loaded and another when he represented the potential winning run. Despite the playoff loss, he had good memories of high school ball, especially the competitiveness.
“It was a fun time and it’s what you play for in high school,” suggested Trout. “You play to try to win championships.”
However, it wasn’t until his senior year that he would transition from shortstop and pitcher to full-time outfielder. That year he set a New Jersey high school single season record with 18 homeruns. After he was drafted in the first round by the Angels in 2009, a scout claimed that he had “never seen a 17-year-old who was that fast and that strong.”
The Millville, NJ native has left an enormous legacy with his high school team and it is something that he embraces. Every year the Thunderbolts honor Trout by awarding his old high school jersey number to the team’s captain.
Despite losing to Clearview 3-0 in the state’s sectional final, the Thunderbolts went an undefeated 13-0 at ‘Mike Trout Field’ this season.
“I always go back in the offseason to see the field, the coaches and the players,” said Trout. “They had a great year and great season and fought ‘til the end.”
Like many baseball fans growing up in New Jersey, Trout’s childhood idol was Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.
“Obviously I was star struck a little bit (when we met) because I grew up watching him on TV all the time,” suggested Trout, who always enjoys his trips to Yankee Stadium. “Getting to know him through the years and being able to participate in his last All-Star Game was special.”
Trout, 24, has accomplished so much already at such a young age. Through his first six seasons, he hast hit 152 home runs while batting over .300 and swiping 122 stolen bases. In his first full season in 2012, he earned Rookie of the Year honors.
Two years ago, Trout signed a six-year, $144.5 million guaranteed contract extension with the Angels, so what keeps the four-time Silver Slugger motivated?
“Try to win a ring,” said Trout. “Everybody’s mindsight in this clubhouse is to win a championship.”
This weekend, Toms River will host NJSIAA Group Finals as teams compete for a state championship.
Trout’s advice to the young baseball players who will be playing in the NJSIAA Group Finals this weekend was simple. “Just go out there and have fun.”