os Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout is not the type to brag. According to him, he’s just a normal guy with a particular set of skills. Except that those skills happen to be once-in-a-generation, out-of-this-world skills. This unassuming Jersey boy is routinely compared to Mickey Mantle. He’s been the number one player in the Major Leagues since 2012—just his second year in the big leagues. In 2016 he accepted his second American League Most Valuable Player award in three seasons, a feat even Mantle couldn’t match.
Born in 1991 in Vineland, New Jersey, Michael Nelson Trout was a star from the time he started Little League (and wore #2 in honor of his hero, Derek Jeter.) Baseball is in Trout’s blood; his dad was a strong college player who went on to spend four years in the minor leagues before injuries curtailed his career.
A first-round pick by the Angels in 2009, Trout made a brief appearance with the club while still a teenager. In 2012, at the close of his first full season, the 6-foot-2 powerhouse was unanimously named American League Rookie of the Year. In just over five seasons, No. 27 has built an extraordinary résumé: 306 runs and 143 stolen bases.
According to jockbio.com, Trout “is fast on base paths and in the outfield, and possesses a strong arm and good defensive instincts. He hits for average and power, is patient at the plate, and never shrinks from a challenge.”
Trout was preparing for the start of the 2017 season when we caught up with him to talk about baseball, family life and his unusual fascination with, of all things, the weather.
1. Congratulations on winning your second American League MVP. How does this one feel compared to the first time around?
I was pretty surprised. You think about it a lot, and hear everyone’s thoughts and opinions, but I really wasn’t sure which way it would go. I was honored to be one of the three finalists, along with Mookie Betts and Jose Altuve. Both of those guys are great players and had tremendous seasons.
2. You may be the most unassuming superstar in American sports. Not surprising that your childhood hero was Derek Jeter. What do you carry with you from Derek?
Derek taught us the right way to play the game, but more importantly, he showed us how to respect the game. The manner in which he conducted himself on and off the field is something not only Major League players should remember, but any professional athlete. And he did it for all those years with the highest level of class.
3. You were a baseball phenom even as a little kid. Did you always know that this was going to be how you made your mark on the world?
From the time I first started playing baseball, the game has been fun for me. And that feeling really has only grown stronger. I never thought about leaving a mark. I just try to approach things in a positive manner every day and, as my parents taught me, when you respect others, they respect you back.
4. What do you like best about baseball?
I like everything about it. The competing part is obviously the best, but there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t learn something different when I play. I love the matchup in the box when it’s just one-on-one. And I get that same rush making a key play in the outfield or throwing out an advancing runner.
5. Your dad also was a pretty good ball player. What did you learn from him about the game?
He taught me so many things and continues doing so to this day. Growing up, he never put pressure on me when it came to playing baseball, and he was always supportive of whatever decisions I made. While he taught me a lot about the mechanics involved in the game, his biggest gift was stressing the importance of having fun and playing every day with enthusiasm.
6. What did you learn from your parents about life?
Everything with my mom, dad, brother and sister has been about family. We have always been close and supportive of each other and that means a great deal to me.
7. What does Mike Trout do when he’s not playing baseball?
Now that I am engaged, spending time with my fiancée is the most important thing I do when I am not playing. I also enjoy hunting and fishing with my family and friends back home during the offseason. Whenever I have the opportunity, I really enjoy golfing, especially on the Pelican Hill® courses during the season. When family and friends visit, we try to get as many rounds in as possible. No matter how many times I play the courses, I find myself stepping back and taking in the surroundings.
8. Are you as good at golf as you are at baseball?
I have a lot of fun and love the competition of golf. But it’s probably better if you ask my teammates to comment on my golf game!
9. What do you like most about life in Southern California?
Tough to beat the weather, and the dining is unbelievable.
10. Your big passion outside of baseball is the weather. You’ve even been spotted on The Weather Channel. What is it about this subject that attracts you so?
I spend a lot of time checking out weather patterns and what’s going on not only where I might be, but around the country. Sometimes [Angels Manager Mike Scioscia] will ask me to provide the team with a weather update during spring training. If I didn’t play baseball, doing something in this field would be a strong consideration.
11. What are your goals for the 2017 season?
Play in October. All the individual numbers or accomplishments really don’t matter unless you win and find yourselves playing in the post-season.