Trout feels the love in his first game at the Bank

CHARLESFOX Staff Photographer
CHARLESFOX Staff Photographer
Posted: May 15, 2014

Mike Trout woke up Tuesday at home.

In a way, Trout ended one of the more eventful days of his professional baseball career in the same place.

Trout was a member of the visiting team at Citizens Bank Park as the star centerfielder for the Los Angeles Angels.

But given the sea of red "Trout 27" jerseys and T-shirts in the stands, the cheers that followed the mention of his name, and all the trappings of "Millville Night" in the stadium, it surely wasn't a typical road game for the 22-year-old former Phillies fan.

"I love it here," Trout said during an engaging, 30-minute news conference in the Phillies' media room.

Everything about the swirl of activity around Trout seemed to serve to remind him that he was back in familiar territory, playing his first major-league game in the stadium that is home to his former favorite team.

"It's great to be home," Trout said before going 1 for 5 in the Angels' 4-3 win in the opener of a two-game, interleague series. "It's going to be exciting to go out there and see family and friends."

Trout said he loved the South Jersey/Philadelphia region because of the weather - "It gets boring, all those 75-degree, sunny days," in California - and the people.

"I come home and go to a store or a restaurant and people are so nice to me," Trout said. "It means a lot."

Trout said he grew up as a "Phillies fan, an Eagles fan, all the Philly teams."

He spoke of his passion for the Eagles - "I get up" during games - and his appreciation for the fans.

"I know growing up as a kid going to Eagles games, if somebody had a different jersey on, they were getting booed," Trout said. "So it's going to be interesting."

There didn't seem to be any boos when Trout was introduced before the game and before every at-bat - just loud cheers from the fans who filled the stands in their replica red Trout jerseys as well as the Millville orange jerseys that spread across the upper deck behind home plate.

"Look at all the orange shirts," Millville High baseball coach Roy Hallenbeck said, staring across the field from his seat in Section 146 in left-center field.

It was a whirlwind day for Trout, the former Millville High School star who is widely regarded as the best all-around player in baseball.

It started when the Angels arrived in Philadelphia shortly after midnight after playing Monday night in Toronto. "Flying into Philly airport, that's what I do in the offseason," Trout said.

Trout said he spent the night at the home of his parents, Jeff and Debbie. He turned off the ringer on his cellphone so he could sleep late.

"Good thing it was on silent or it would have woken me up at 8 o'clock," Trout said of calls and texts from friends in the Millville area.

He said he treated himself to one hamburger at his favorite joint in Millville, Jim's Lunch on Main Street. "Just one," Trout said with a smile. "Got a game tonight."

After his session with the media, Trout spent about 30 minutes in a "meet-and-greet" event arranged by J&J Snack Foods, the food and beverage conglomerate based in Pennsauken. Trout has an endorsement deal with the company.

Trout posed for pictures with three special-needs youngsters who were honored by the company as "SuperKids."

"It means the world for him to do this," said Denise Cantoni of Vineland, whose 7-year-old son, Jared, was among those recognized.

Moments later, Trout was on the field for stretching and batting practice. He arranged for the Millville High School baseball team to stand on the field during the Angels' session.

"He wore the same colors and had the same teachers as us," Millville senior pitcher/infielder Roberto Rivera said. "He's a great kid - great man."

Millville junior Bill Forte said Trout has remained loyal to his hometown.

"He never forgets where he came from," Forte said.

As the Millville High School band played on the field before the game, Millville native Debbie McCafferty-Sharp said her connection with Trout went back generations.

"My mom and his grandmom were friends in high school," McCafferty-Sharp said, sitting in the front row of Section 412 in a red Trout jersey.

McCafferty-Sharp said she watched Trout grow up, playing different sports with the change of the seasons.

"He's the all-American kid," McCafferty-Sharp said of Trout. "That's what a picture of the all-American kid would look like."

Before the game, Trout said it would be "something special" to play against the Phillies. He recalled that one of his last visits to the stadium was the night the Phillies won the 2008 World Series.

Trout spent the game in the parking lot, tailgating with his friends.

"I think they won the game," Trout said with a smile.

Trout has lived the last two offseasons in his parents' basement. But he will make $1 million this season and signed a six-year, $144.5 million deal that will start in 2015, so he's going to build his own residence.

But he made it clear it won't be far away.

"This is where I was brought up," Trout said.


panastasia@phillynews.com

@PhilAnastasia

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