PALM DESERT, CA (Aug. 23) – Remember the “can’t miss” prospect, the best kid baseball player you ever saw?
“Orioles’ Big Bird: Mark Trumbo speaks softly, but carries a big stick,” written by award-winning Baltimore Sun columnist Peter Schmuck, 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.
“Orioles’ Big Bird” is written for the middle-grade reader to help inspire and motivate young boys and girls to read, and to understand that success can be a long road that even the best athletes have to take. But there were great memories along the way. Orioles’ Big Bird is the third in a series of middle-grade books published by Back Story Publishing. The book is available at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble in paperback ($12.99) and EPub ($9.99)
Within the 18 chapters of the book, Schmuck translates some of Trumbo’s most vivid memories of growing up and playing ball in Southern California. Like the time that Trumbo, then 11 years old and playing in the Villa Park Little League, 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!
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 centerfield 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.
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 writers and 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.
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“Mark is just a strong role model for young people to emulate, because of the way he carries himself on the field and the way he treats people off of it. Mark is a solid guy with a lot to offer anyone who wants to know how to go about becoming a good ballplayer and balance that with the other important things in life.”
~ Buck Showalter, Baltimore Orioles manager, three-time American League Manager of the Year
“I can’t think of anybody who would be a better example for kids. From the second I got to spring training in 2016 as a non-roster invite, I had the locker next to him and he really took me under his wing and made me feel comfortable.
“I was nervous going into it. It’s intimidating going into a big-league locker room and you’re a minor-league player and you want to do everything the right way. He kind of helped me do that. I think one of the best compliments you could give someone is being a great teammate and a great mentor. He definitely has done that for me and shown me that when I get older, that’s the way I want to model myself.
“He definitely can be an example outside of baseball, too.”
~ Trey Mancini, Orioles First Baseman-Outfielder, third in the 2017 American League Rookie of the Year voting
“The thing that surprised me most was the teamwork involved in producing this book,” he said. “From the total cooperation of Mark Trumbo, his wife, his parents and his close friends, to the collaboration with Back Story Publishing on interviews, photo assignments and the structure of the actual book, it has been a great experience.
“Mark is generally a very quiet guy, but he really opened up for this book. There are moments in the book that are exhilarating, others that are heartbreaking and many more that are instructive for the young readership. I very much enjoyed spending hours with Mark going through every phase of his life.”
~ “Orioles’ Big Bird” author Peter Schmuck, Baltimore Sun