It was the Katella Avenue nightmare, and not just for one night. For nearly a decade, the Angels and their fans sweated and dreaded the fear that Mike Trout would bring his talent to South Philly. Trout would go home and win big, and the angels would be stranded in purgatory.
In real life there was a twist. The Philadelphia Phillies got a midfielder from the Angels, and they won big. Trout and the angels remain in purgatory.
On Monday, when the Phillies play their first World Series home game since Trout’s senior year of high school, their midfielder is expected to be Brandon Marsh.
“God works in mysterious ways,” Marsh said.
Trout, the American League’s three-times most valuable player, has played 11 full seasons without winning a postseason game. Marsh has won 10 in the past 24 days in his first full season.
Marsh said he was shocked to be traded by the Angels in August, blessed to be in the World Series and grateful to Trout. After the Phillies earned their place in the World Series, Marsh said Trout sent a congratulatory message.
“He was a great role model for me,” Marsh said. “He’s a guy I want to have in my corner for as long as possible. This is a guy I definitely look up to, on and off the pitch.
“Trouty is as good as it gets, as a person and as a player. He is unique.”
He’s everything you could ask for in a hometown hero, but he’s chosen not to come home.
In 2013, before Trout had turned 21, Philadelphia Magazine was practically drooling at the prospect of Trout coming home one day.
The magazine dutifully noted how Trout returned each winter to his hometown of Millville, NJ, about 45 miles from the Phillies ballpark, how his usual order at Jim’s Diner was “six burgers, no cheese, just Jim’s special sauce,” and how good Der 8-year-old named Theo had become “something of a schoolyard celebrity” because Theo’s parents bought Trout’s old family home and Theo found out he slept in Trout’s old bedroom.
As the magazine put it, “Trout in a Phillies uniform is a dream even he had trouble waking from; In 2009, having already become an angel, he called out to his father from his bedroom: “we got Roy Halladay!”
To be fair, Trout was six months out of high school, his Angels career at the time limited to 44 minor league games in Tempe, Arizona and Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
“Can you imagine Trout and Harper on the same team? Man, that would be amazing.”
– Tim Shannon, former mayor of Millville, NJ
He was in the 2010 Futures Game, 2011 Major Leagues, and 2012 All-Star Game. Five years after his retirement, he is inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Roy Hallenbeck, Trout’s high school coach, said, “People thought how great it would be to bring him home.”
Trout never went home or anywhere else, and didn’t even allow himself to consider other teams.
In 2014, four seasons before he could have become a free agent, he signed a $144.5 million contract extension with the Angels. In 2019, two seasons before he could have been a free agent again, he traded the final two years of that first big contract for an even bigger one: 12 years and $426.5 million.
Three weeks earlier, the Phillies had signed Bryce Harper. In return, Harper told a Philadelphia radio station, “If you don’t think I’m going to call Mike Trout to come to Philadelphia in 2020, you’re crazy.”
Could the Phillies have afforded Harper and Trout? If the San Diego Padres Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. could afford $640 million in one of the smallest markets in the big leagues, the big Phillies could well have bought Harper and Trout for another $100 million.
“Can you imagine Trout and Harper on the same team? Man, that would be amazing,” said Tim Shannon, a former mayor of Millville.
At the press conference announcing his mammoth deal, Trout and his wife Jessica sat under a giant red banner: the word LOYALTY in giant letters with a halo over the A.
“He’s pretty honest,” said Shannon, who has known the Trout family for decades. “He doesn’t falter much. He doesn’t have a lot to say, but he goes out there and plays hard every day.
“I think he has that salt of the earth mentality. If someone takes care of him, he will remain loyal to them.”
Fans in Millville thought Trout would come home to play, but he didn’t. Fans in every major league thought Trout would demand a trade from the Angels, but he didn’t.
Shannon believes Trout would only leave Anaheim if the Angels came to him and asked him to approve a trade so they could “put some ballplayers in the system.”
Shannon said, “If he ever came to Philly, I’d have to re-bill the house to get season tickets.”
For this week at least, the good folks of Millville don’t have to split their allegiances between the Angels and the Phillies.
“The fanbase out here is absolutely mad with excitement,” Hallenbeck said. “The news and social media are all about the Phillies.”
Hallenbeck is the rare Millville resident who isn’t absolutely mad with excitement. He might make angels bleed red, but not Phillies red.
“I’m a Mets fan,” he said, laughing. “No, this isn’t really a great time for me.”
https://www.latimes.com/sports/angels/story/2022-10-31/mike-trout-hometown-hero-phillies-world-series Will Mike Trout ever play for hometown favorite Phillies?