Angels' Mike Trout is from Millville, N.J., and those from the area… (Dave Griffin / The Press…)
Around south New Jersey, there are plenty of people proud of their connection to Angels star Mike Trout — no matter how tenuous the relationship.
For example, Vaughn Champion was a two-time all-conference pick and two-time team MVP at Absegami High in Galloway. But when visitors stop by the house, the first home video his dad pulls out is the one featuring Mike Trout.
"We've shown it to quite a few people," Champion says.
In it, Champion, then a freshman second baseman, fields Trout's one-hop smash to start a double play — the only ground-ball double play Trout hit into in four seasons at Millville High.
"I'm probably never going to play against a guy as good as Mike Trout," says Champion, now a freshman infielder at Wagner College on Staten Island. "Not many people get to do that against guys who go on to accomplish such great things."
And Champion isn't the only one playing Six Degrees of Mike Trout.
When college friends in Reading, Pa., find out Kristin Trout played softball at Millville, they immediately assume she is a close relative of Mike's — which she is not.
"Usually I just say that I am. It makes it easier," she says. "It's pretty cool because, like, he's famous and people know his name."
Then there's Mike DeCicco, who drilled the future American League rookie of the year with a pitch during a high school game. It was the only pitch to hit Trout his senior year, and it nearly started a brawl.
"I guess it's kind of my claim to fame," says DeCicco, who three years later wrote a 3,000-word blog about the incident. On vacation last summer, he went to see Trout play when the Angels were in San Diego.
In his blog, DeCicco quotes Angels outfielder Vernon Wells saying of Trout: "He's one of those guys who, when you're done playing, you're going to say, 'I played with Mike Trout. I was there when he got started.'"
DeCicco says that sums up his feelings as well.
"Even if his career ended tomorrow," DeCicco says, "it's still going to be something I'll always be able to tell."