MILLVILLE — City officials took down a series of large Mike Trout banners around town last month in preparation for Hurricane Sandy.
Trout would rather they stay in storage.
“I like seeing my name everywhere, but they can leave it down,” Trout said with a smile at a news conference Tuesday, one day after being named American League Rookie of the Year.
That’s how Trout is. The banners and Tuesday’s news conference at the Thunderbolt Club were Millville’s only major public acknowledgements of Trout’s spectacular season with the Los Angeles Angels. There is alarmingly little evidence around town that a native son could be named AL MVP on Thursday.
“There’s a lot of people that would like to do a lot of different things, but that’s not Mike’s nature,” said Mayor Tim Shannon, a former next-door neighbor who remains close with Trout’s family. “He’s sort of laid-back. He would probably rather be hunting and fishing today.”
Indeed, Trout said hunting and fishing were a big reason why he flew home almost immediately after the Angels’ season ended last month.
“I’m a weather guy,” the 21-year-old said. “It’s pretty funny. I like to come back, see a little snow, see a little rain. L.A., you get 75 degrees, sunny every day. It’s great baseball weather, but (in the) offseason I like to come back and hunt and fish, so I like definitely being in the weather.”
Trout lives with his parents, Jeff and Debbie, but he plans to get his own place next offseason.
“I’m going to stay around here,” he said. “It might not be downtown Millville, but it’ll be around this area. It’d probably be back in the woods somewhere. ... I like to keep my privacy.”
Wherever he goes, it likely won’t be too far from Jim’s Lunch in Millville. Trout was asked Tuesday what his go-to sandwich is at the Millville landmark, and he spent nearly two full minutes talking about it.
His order — which employees at Jim’s were able to recite on cue later in the day — is six hamburgers and sauce with french fries and sauce. He even once had his mother freeze some burgers and bring them out to Los Angeles.
“A lot of people on the West Coast, a lot of my buddies are In-N-Out (Burger) fans,” Trout said. “They get the loaded french fries or whatever, and I’m just like, dude, you haven’t seen this burger. You think these burgers are good? You’ve got to go to my hometown and see Jim’s Lunch.”
When told that, Jim’s Lunch owner Rochelle Maul said, “Thanks, Mike!”
Rochelle’s son, Jim Maul Jr., said the restaurant plans to put up a display dedicated to Trout eventually. They have a painting of him that they plan to have him sign. Maul Jr. said he hadn’t thought about naming a menu item after Trout, but he said it “sounds like a good idea.”
“(Trout and his friends) stop in before golf, after golf,” Maul Jr. said. “The other day, he was in before he went pheasant hunting. I just think it’s cool watching him in the offseason now enjoy himself, because he earned it.”
Trout has a few hunting trips scheduled over the next few months, including one to Missouri. He also plans to take his family to Key West, Fla., for his father’s birthday in January.
Aside from those kinds of perks, though, Trout’s family treats him the same as always when he’s home.
“His mother keeps him grounded,” Jeff Trout said. “Yesterday, (she said), ‘Mike, take the trash out.’ He’s not a diva at our house.”
Trout was the center of attention Tuesday, though. Nearly every major media outlet from South Jersey and Philadelphia was represented at the Thunderbolt Club, and a camera crew from Los Angeles even flew in for the occasion.
Craig Atkinson, vice president and secretary of the Thunderbolt Club — a Millville High School booster club — said there are plans to add significantly to the press clippings about Trout on the walls of their banquet room.
“You’ve got to,” Atkinson said. “He’s an icon for the kids that are coming up through high school now to see the success he’s had and the type of person he is.
“He’s humble. He’s got class. He’s a Millville Thunderbolt.”
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