Mike Trout is finally back home.
After becoming one of the most impressive and most talented big leaguers in recent memory, the 22-year-old played his first game in Philadelphia Tuesday, just over 40 miles from his hometown of Millville, NJ, and did it in front of a home crowd — literally.
Over 6,000 people traveled those 40-plus miles to Citizens Bank Park from his hometown, including family members, former teammates and coaches, and even the mayor of the town (who tossed the ceremonial first pitch).
“My phone was definitely blowing up this morning,” Trout said before Tuesday’s game. “Good thing it was on silent or I’d have been woken up at 8-o-clock. I am sure I’ll see some people in the stands tonight that will jump out to me.”
Trout was there in downtown Philadelphia when the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, just like all the other fans. And he will be in centerfield while some of his childhood heros are at the plate during the two-game set.
“It’s going to be something special,” Trout said Tuesday afternoon. “To think I would be here playing high school ball just a couple years ago, and now playing for my first time here, not actually watching the games but playing the games. I’m not sure how I will react to it. It’s going to be some special feelings. I’m just going to go out there and play my game to help the Angels win.”
Trout was also excited to be able to give the Millville High School baseball team an opportunity to take batting practice with him and his teammates.
“If I got a chance to come on the field for batting practice as a high school kid it would be an unbelievable experience to be on the same field as a professional baseball player,” he said. “It’s definitely going to mean a lot to them, it’s nice to give back to the kids.”
Trout’s Philly ties run deep, and the two-time AL MVP runner up plans to build a home in South Jersey. He also plans to keep paying for Eagles season tickets.
“I’m definitely a season ticket holder,” He said. “I’m a huge Eagles fan. I was going to go to their practice today but I got in late [last night]. I get up and cheer a little bit. I get into the games and if they great beat it’s tough. It’s fun to go to their games for sure.”
Trout will be an Angel until at least 2020, when his recently inked contract runs out. But when he spoke to the Philadelphia media Tuesday afternoon, he didn’t deny his desire to someday play for his hometown team.
“My parents and my dad, my girlfriend they are big Phillies fans,” Trout said with a smile. “When I call from the west coast they are always watching the Phillies games.”
“When the time comes we’ll see (about playing in Philly).”
Follow Philadelphia sports editor Evan Macy on twitter @Evan_Macy