|The Angels' Mike Trout (courtesy of Peter Yang /GQ)|
The Los Angeles Angels center fielder, coming off a mind-blowing rookie year in which he drew comparisons to Mickey Mantle, has been laying low this winter and doing his best to soak in what was the “craziest year of his life.”
GQ’s Dan Riley talks with Trout about growing up and playing baseball in the northeast, his first season in California, and the huge expectations surrounding his second year in the big leagues.
Here's some highlights:
Trout on growing up playing baseball in Millville, NJ: And to think that just four years ago, Trout was still playing here, staring down fledgling 15-year-old noodles from Egg Harbor. I swung by the field at Millville Senior High, which looked, in January, like city streets do in postapocalyptic movies. Deadened to straw, overgrown, abandoned. No one would be playing ball here for months. I imagine Mike at bat, popping up a home run over that fence 330 feet away in center.(Three hundred thirty is the spot in a big-league stadium where you’ll find a pile of cracked sunflower seeds left by a bored center fielder.) It almost seems unfair. “Man, I drive by there every once in a while when I’m home,” Mike says. “I look at that fence and it’s like, How did I not hit more home runs here?”
…on his rookie year: “Had to be the craziest year of my life,” he says. “At the airport at the end of season, I’m coming home, buying a pack of gum or something. And there were all these magazines. And I see this little kid looking at the cover of ESPN The Magazine. Looks at it and looks at me; looks at it, looks at me. And he finally goes, ‘Is that you?’ ”
…on whether or not he's considered moving to California from New Jersey: "I've considered it," he says. "But the first house I buy will be right here."
…on how being in California has started to change him: “The sushi thing, man. If you put sushi in front of my face two years ago, I wouldn’t even sniff it, wouldn’t touch it, wouldn’t try a lot of food. The appetite’s changed,” he says. “The food and the beach. I’m moving down to the beach. Settling in in Newport. Really love that.”
…on his spectacular play that robbed J.J. Hardy of a home run: “That one was probably the first thing in the majors where I felt fired up on a different level,” Trout says. “It was just…different. When it came off the bat, I didn’t think it was going to be a home run at first, and then I got to the track. I jumped, I came down, I looked at Torii [Hunter], and he said, ‘Look in your glove!’ I didn’t even realize it.” The best, most 20-year-old thing about that moment was Trout’s reaction: turning 180 degrees, his back to home plate, to check out the scoreboard replay. “Had to look up. Standing out there in centerfield watching the highlight.”
…on getting ribbed by players he competed against in High School: “I get it a lot on Twitter, Facebook—these guys saying, ‘Remember me? I struck you out!’ Well, congratulations,” he says, laughing and realizing, passingly, that that is pretty awesome. “You know, in my senior year, I went four games and never struck out. Then we were down in Lower Cape May against this guy who was throwing maybe fifty-five. All these guys on my team had hit a home run, and they were getting on me that I hadn’t hit a homer yet, or whatever. So I get up there, and I strike out on three pitches. And the last one I swung at was over my head. I walked back to the dugout, and all the coaches and players were laughing at me. No matter what I do the rest of mycareer, these coaches’ll say, ‘Remember that pitcher from Lower Cape May?’ There’ll always be that one game.”