One of the happiest days in Los Angeles Angels franchise history came in 2002, when Tim Salmon led the team to its first ever World Series Championship.
Seventeen long years later comes the second happiest day in franchise history. On March 20 Mike Trout agreed to a 12-year, $430 million contract extension, the largest dollar amount in American sports history.
Trout’s family, teammates and hundreds of his fans gathered outside of Angel Stadium in Anaheim on March 24 in a press conference that would signify Trout’s first remarks since signing his record-breaking extension.
As Trout enters his second contract extension with the Angels, he will have received over $500 million from the organization. With an MLB leading annual salary of over $36 million, the Angels got their man.
For reference, when Angels owner Arte Moreno purchased the team from The Walt Disney Company in 2003, he paid $184 million.
“We were able to keep Mike home in a baseball sense,” Angels General Manager Billy Eppler said during the afternoon press conference. “He was born an Angel, raised an Angel, and represents the organization better than anyone.”
Since reports of the extension broke early March 19, baseball players throughout MLB all had a common opinion: how much Trout deserved every single penny of the contract.
His entire team proved this when they all filtered into the press conference fresh out of practice.
Trout is without a doubt the greatest player of the generation that has been ridden with steroid scandals and the 27-year-old has done it with class and grace. The centerfielder’s deal guarantees that he will remain with the team that drafted him for the rest of his legendary career.
Bursting onto the scene as a 20-year-old, Trout quickly rose to the top of all of the record books. His first full season in 2012 campaign led to a unanimous voting of the rookie of the year, joining a list of legendary names like Mark McGwire, Carlton Fisk, Derek Jeter, and Angels own, Salmon.
Everyone who is familiar with baseball knows that the only players that even compare to the talent of Trout are people that are dead. In the years so far, Trout has not only broken records, he’s shattered them.
What sets Trout apart from the pack however is the man he is off the field.
During every single home and road game, you can count on Trout to find fans lined up and down the baseline screaming his name, and signs autographs and takes pictures with as many people as humanly possible before the game starts. This isn’t a requirement of an athlete, but Trout feels as though it is.
Just last season I had the opportunity to take the field and watch Trout take batting practice without the cameras around. Here you see the real Trout, laughing with his teammates and coaches, it’s almost hard to believe he’s been in the top two of MVP voting six times and won the hardware twice.
Before he heads off back into the clubhouse in the final two hours before the game, he then walks to the dozens of fans, and you are greeted with a hand and a, “Hi, I’m Mike, it’s nice to meet ya.” Before he leaves your presence, he wants to make sure his fans are left satisfied, let that be an autograph, a photo, and in rare instances, even his bat and batting gloves.
Born and raised in small-town Millville, New Jersey, Trout grew up a fanatic of Philadelphia sports. He may be more known for being a die-hard Eagles fan instead of being the greatest baseball player to ever live. When the Phillies signed 26-year-old outfielder Bryce Harper, the national sports media salivated over the chance to have Trout play for his home team and alongside Harper.
Harper loved the idea himself, and even inserted himself in a possible tampering claim— it doesn’t just happen to the Los Angeles Lakers.
But if you really know Trout, you’d know that he doesn’t enjoy being the guy who likes to show off, he just puts his head down and jogs to the outfield, toes into the batter’s box and does his thing. He then goes home to his house in Orange County to his high school sweetheart, and becomes just Mike.
Previously citing childhood heroes of baseball icons like Jeter, Trout becomes one of the rare superstar athletes that wear only one uniform for their career.
“This is my home,” Trout said during the press conference. “There was never a question that I was going to be an Angel for life.”
If the next 12 years are anything like the first eight of Trout’s career, the only place the man is headed after Anaheim is Cooperstown, New York.