Thursday, September 3, 2015

Baseball: Trout gives back to Millville

Baseball: Trout gives back to Millville

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By Phil Anastasia

Mike Trout is used to seeing his name in lights on scoreboards across major league baseball.

But the Los Angeles Angels outfielder knows it's going to be different seeing his name on a sign over the baseball field at his old high school in Millville.

"I know it's going to be humbling," Trout said this week in a telephone interview from the Angels' spring training home in Tempe, Ar.. "Driving by and seeing my name up there, it's going to be a good feeling. My dad (Jeff) played there. All my buddies played there. The coaches who brought me up are still there."

Trout, the 21-year-old who burst on the baseball scene as the American League Rookie of the Year in 2012, has been the driving force in an effort to refurbish the baseball field at Millville.

Trout directed a $20,000 bonus for his Rookie of the Year award to Millville to start the repairs. BodyArmor SuperDrink, the sports drink that Trout endorses, has kicked in another $10,000 and taken the lead in the project.

"It's where I was born and raised," Trout said of Millville. "I want to be able to give back, to have the kids there be able to play on the best field, to have that opportunity."

Mike Fedele, the director of marketing for BodyArmor SuperDrink, said the Millville field renovation was a "passion project" for Trout.

"His heart was around his hometown," Fedele said.

The project began with the laying of new infield sod in February, according to Millville baseball coach Roy Hallenbeck. Other improvements have included the installation of a new batting cage down the left-field line, work on the home-plate and pitching-mound areas as well as the dugouts painting of the press box and bleachers.

Trout graduated from Millville in 2009. In his senior season, he batted .531 with 49 runs, 45 RBIs and hit a state-record 18 home runs. He was selected by the Angels with the 25th pick in the major-league draft.

The Millville Board of Education has announced plans to name the facility "Mike Trout Field," at a dedication ceremony later this spring.

Trout finished second in the voting for American League MVP after a rookie season in which he batted .326 with 129 runs, 30 home runs and 49 stolen bases.

Trout said he wasn't certain he could make the event. The Angels' first East Coast swing will include games in Boston June 7-9 and Baltimore June 10-12.

Hallenbeck, who coached Trout, said his former player's commitment to his old high school resonates with the Millville community.

"The material things, the money, that comes and goes," Hallenback said. "Sod gets ripped up. Money gets spent. But the idea that Mike has it in his heart to reach out and help Millville, that's what means so much to us."

Contact Phil Anastasia at panastasia@phillynews.com. Follow @PhilAnastasia on Twitter.

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About this blog
Born and raised in South Jersey, Phil Anastasia prefers standing on the sidelines at high school football games on Friday nights to sitting in the press box at Eagles games on Sunday afternoons. He’s a graduate of Rowan University with a degree in English. Reach Phil at panastasia@phillynews.com.

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