Back home, Millville's Trout enjoying the ride

(Marc Narducci/Staff)
(Marc Narducci/Staff)
Posted: June 27, 2012

BALTIMORE - It was just like the old days, Mike Trout sitting in the backseat of the car, being driven to another baseball game by his parents, Jeff and Debbie.

Trout, the Los Angeles Angels outfielder from Millville, N.J., who woke up Tuesday leading the American League in batting and stolen bases, got to spend an off-day in his hometown on Monday.

He took a redeye from Los Angeles to Philadelphia Sunday night with his parents, who were visiting him in Anaheim, Calif., on Monday, Trout stayed at the family's Millville home.

Trout's parents drove him to Tuesday's game against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards, the closest stadium to his home other than Citizens Bank Park.

"Never has the thought of dropping our son off at the park had such meaning," Debbie Trout said before Tuesday's game.

On Monday, the 20-year-old Trout was able to be, well, a 20-year-old, playing with his niece and nephew, seeing friends, and hanging out at home in a town that has embraced him and has been rewarded with similar enthusiasm.

The people in Millville "have been there since Day 1, going to my high school games and stuff," Trout said during a news conference that was scheduled nearly four hours before the game because of all the Philadelphia-area media who came to see him. "It's good to see how far I came since high school, and they are coming out to see me tonight and tomorrow, and it's great to see familiar faces again."

Camden Yards became a sea of red with so many fans wearing Angels shirts, specifically Mike Trout jerseys.

A number of Millville fans estimated that about 1,000 of them came to the game.

Jeff and Mary Beth DuBois of Millville - friends of the family - went to see Trout play in October in the Arizona Fall League and dined with him afterward.

"The whole town has rallied around him," Jeff DuBois said.

Trout, who will turn 21 on Aug. 7, played last season for the Angels in Baltimore and had a similarly strong show of hometown support. The one difference was his production.

Last year he was called up because of injuries on the roster and entered a July series at Baltimore batting .133.

"I was pressing," said Trout, who batted .220 in 123 at-bats for the Angels last season.

This year?

His AL-leading average entering Tuesday was .338, and Trout was on top of the league with 21 stolen bases. (He went 1 for 5 with a run scored in Tuesday's 7-3 Los Angeles win.)

Perhaps the only people who have enjoyed his success more than his fans in Millville have been the Angels themselves. The players didn't even give Trout flak for having his own news conference, in the dugout.

"They are probably tired of talking about me anyway," Trout said.

No they aren't.

"For what he is doing, he is worthy of a press conference," veteran outfielder Torii Hunter said. "He is a great kid and we know he's humble, and we keep him humble in here."

If Trout did want to gloat, plenty of teammates would set him on the right path. The veterans clearly look out for him.

"He comes here every day and plays the game," future Hall of Fame first baseman Albert Pujols said. "If I see any change in him, I am the one who will pull his ear to the side."

Pujols' message to Trout?

"You can't get caught up in what the media say."

These days that's easier said than done. Everybody seems to be writing about Trout. And so many, especially in Millville, want to see him.

That's why Monday was so important. Trout was able to be with the people who mean the most to him - his family and friends.

"I didn't go out, I stayed incognito," he said.

He enjoyed every minute.

"He needed a day to just be with friends and family and get away from things," Debbie Trout said.

Trout tries to deflect any questions about possibly making the all-star team, becoming rookie of the year, or winning the MVP award.

"I don't worry about that stuff," he said.

No, he keeps it simple, clearly enjoying the ride, especially the one to the ballpark Tuesday.

Contact Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225, Follow @sjnard on Twitter.


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