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Remember the can't miss prospect, the best kid baseball player you ever saw?
This is the story of how a young man made a name for himself, then saw his dreams evaporate, then found a new path to success, only to have his world turned upside down, multiple times ... and then succeeded brilliantly.
It's about Baltimore Orioles slugger Mark Trumbo.
Written by the award-winning Baltimore Sun columnist Peter Schmuck, Orioles' Big Bird traces the long road to the major leagues that even the best young players have to take. But there were great memories along the way.
Like the time that Trumbo, then 11 years old and playing in the Villa Park Little League in Southern California, hammered a pitch not just beyond the fence, but past the parking lot and into the swimming pool of the Christensen family, more than 300 feet away!
Taught to play by his father, Grant, the young Trumbo was a star in the making and then he suddenly couldn't hit any more. His body was changing as he entered his teenage years and he also had an interest in music that included playing the guitar and the drums.
Maybe baseball was not his destiny.
By the time he got to Villa Park High School, he was still playing baseball, as a reserve on the varsity team, rarely seeing the field. But now his pitching had blossomed even more than his hitting and due to a teammate's injury, he ended up pitching and winning the Southern California Southern Section championship game as a sophomore and was named the area's Player of the Year.
He was still a good hitter. But he was on his way to being a big league pitcher. Until he wasn't.
He got a grade of D at a baseball camp for elite high school players attended by pro scouts. But he was offered a full scholarship at the University of Southern California and it looked like he would attend after the Los Angeles Angels selected him in the 18th round of the Major League Baseball Draft.
Then the Angels offered him a contract with a signing bonus of $1.45 million! Wow!
But during a physical examination, the Angels' doctor said Trumbo's elbow showed signs of arthritis and overuse. Back to USC. Then, the Angels decided they liked him anyway ... as a hitter. And during a tryout at Angel Stadium, he smashed balls into the centerfield rocks like he did into the Christensen pool seven years earlier. The Angels signed him right away.
Then came the minor leagues. He started with the Orem Owlz in Utah in the Pioneer League and was immediately told to change his swing. I had no idea what I was doing, Trumbo said.
But he got better and graduated to Class A ball in Iowa, a AA team in Arkansas and to AAA Salt Lake City in the Pacific Coast League and after five years in the minors, he got the call-up to play for the Angels in Anaheim in September of 2010.
Baseball fans know the rest. Trumbo became a star with the Angels, but was traded to Arizona before the 2014 season, then to Seattle, then back to Arizona and finally to Baltimore, where he led the majors in home runs in 2016 with 47.
I get way more attention that I deserve Trumbo has said. He's married now, he still plays music and tries to give back to his team's community as much as he can.
As Schmuck notes, Trumbo's success is about believing in yourself, even when life makes that hard.
Orioles' Big Bird includes Trumbo's complete, year-by-year Major League statistics and an excellent glossary of baseball terminology for the novice and seasoned fan alike.