Mike Trout brings Millville to Manhattan

 

By Phil Anastasia

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NEW YORK -- Far be it for Mike Trout to announce that he's on top of the world.

But he still enjoys the view from the 86th Floor Observatory of the Empire State Building.

Especially when he can share it with family, friends and lots of Millville baseball players and coaches.

"It means a lot," Trout said Monday of his ability to bring a little slice of his Cumberland County hometown to the heart of the Big Apple.

Trout, a 22-year-old outfielder for the Los Angeles Angels, might be spending this season re-enforcing the increasingly popular notion that the 2009 Millville High School graduate is the best all-around player in baseball.

He might be following up his 2012 Rookie of the Year season with an even more impressive performance as a second-year player: Through Sunday, he was among the American League leaders in batting average (.330), hits (147), runs (82), doubles (32), triples (8), stolen bases (26), RBIs (73) and OPS (.997).

But he's still "Mikey" to Millville coach Roy Hallenbeck, who brought 14 of his players as well as assistant coaches to New York on Monday for a ceremony to commemorate the naming of Mike Trout Field at Millville High School.

And he's still the same humble, deferential young man to his parents, Jeff and Debbie, who were part of the festivities at the Empire State Building and Foley's New York, a bar-restaurant across 34th Street from the world-famous landmark.

"He's exactly the same," Jeff Trout said of his son. "He's still scared to death of his mother. He's still a momma's boy."

Monday was special for Mike Trout, and not just because he was back on the East Coast and in the company of his parents.

Trout said the best thing about the photo opportunity on the 86th Floor Observatory -- with its sweeping views of Manhattan and all five New York boroughs -- was the ability to share the moment with people from Millville.

"That's what makes this special to me," Trout said. "Millville is my home. I always want to give back when I can."

The Millville traveling party, which included Hallenbeck, his assistant coaches and 14 players, spent a whirlwind Monday in New York. They visited the 911 Memorial after lunch at Foley's and attended the Angels game against the Yankees Monday night at Yankees Stadium.

"It's hard to describe," said Hallenbeck, who coached Trout during all four of his years at Millville. "It's kind of overwhelming."

Recent Millville graduate Emilio Santiago, who played shortstop and wore No. 1 -- Trout's old number -- for the Thunderbolts last spring, said the visit to New York was a "once in a lifetime experience" for the players.

"He's a great player and a great person," Santiago said of Trout. "It's amazing. It's breath-taking."

Said rising Millville junior Omar Moore: "That's just hime (Trout). He's been like that."

The event was a commemoration of a field restoration project spearheaded and partially sponsored by officials from BodyArmour Super Drink, which Trout endorses (and drinks, he says).

BodyArmor kicked in $10,000 and officials from the company took the lead in supervising the construction project. Trout diverted a $20,000 bonus from his Rookie of the Year award to the Millville baseball program for field improvements.

In the spring, the Milville Board of Education voted to re-named the field Mike Trout Field.

"I've said this before: Grass dies, paint chips, nets can rust and fall," Hallenbeck said. "What matters is that Mike wanted to do this. That's what we'll never forget."

Dressed in jeans and a checkered shirt, Trout talked easily with Millville coaches and players in the lobby of the Empire State Building before the start of the ceremony. He could have passed for one of the players, except he wasn't wearing one of the bright orange golf shirts.

Trout posed for pictures in the lobby, and on the 86th Floor Observatory, then accompanied the Millville travel party to Foley's New York -- a small restaurant festooned with sports memorabilia -- for lunch and more photos and interviews.

"It's great to get back to the East Coast, back to see a lot of family and friends," Trout said.

Jeff Trout, a retired Millville teacher and coach, said "every day is an adventure" as their son's fame continues to spread.

Jeff and Debbie told stories of Mike as a three-year in the batting cage, as a five-year-old who served as a batboy for the Millville team.

"He's four years out of high school," Jeff Trout said of his son. "He's handled it so well. He's never going to be a guy who says he's too big or too good. He's never going to forget his roots."

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