There were a lot of Mike Trout jerseys and T-shirts at Nationals Park last night for the Angels superstar’s first game in the District. There were also a few fans wearing the amazing Trout hat pictured above, a stadium giveaway in Anaheim last summer. I kinda want one, at least more than I want the Steve Lombardozzi Nationals shirsey I saw a fan wearing on the main concourse.
The loudest and most concentrated collection of Trout supporters occupied Section 105 in left field. More than 100 Millville, N.J., residents made the three-hour trip by bus as part of a fundraiser for the Millville Lightning, a 12-and-under travel baseball team that’s raising money to play in a summer tournament in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Trout is a graduate of the Millville Little League program and the field at Millville High School bears his name. The Millville players, family members and coaches in Section 105, many of whom wore blue and orange Millville shirts with Trout’s name and high school number (1), came alive every time he came to bat and erupted after his two singles.
Lightning Coach Todd Buonadonna told me the team has organized fundraising trips to see Trout in various stops on the East Coast since he entered the league. Buonadonna has been to Camden Yards in Baltimore and Yankee Stadium in New York. The team has already reserved a block of 4,000 tickets for the Angels’ trip to Philadelphia in mid-May.
“This is beautiful and it’s been a great experience,” Buonadonna said of his first trip to Nationals Park. “We lost one of our tickets and they let us buy a $5 general admission ticket just to get in.”
I asked him what he made of the hype surrounding Bryce Harper and Mike Trout’s first meeting.
“Right now I think it’s Trout and [Miguel] Cabrera and everybody else,” he said. “Trout looks like a Hall of Famer. Harper looks like a really good player.”