Orioles' Big Bird: Mark Trumbo speaks softly, but carries a big stick

Orioles' Big Bird: Mark Trumbo speaks softly, but carries a big stick

by Peter Schmuck

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Overview

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780999396766
Publisher: Perelman, Pioneer & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 08/06/2018
Pages: 154
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.33(d)

About the Author

Award-winning baseball writer Peter Schmuck has written more than 10,000 stories over his career with the Orange County Register, the Baltimore Sun, Baseball America, The Sporting News and others. But this is his first book.

"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."

Having covered baseball for more than 40 years, Schmuck had exactly the right background to understand the twists and turns of Trumbo's journey from Little League in Orange County, California to the minors and finally to the big leagues. Born in Southern California, he attended Cal State Fullerton and spent 13 years as a beat reporter for the Register, covering both the Dodgers and the Angels from 1977-90.

From there, he moved across the country to the Sun, covering the Orioles and graduating to the paper's national baseball writer and then to writing the lead sports column, "The Schmuck Stops Here."

He also hosts a weekly radio show on WBAL 1090 in Baltimore. He has contributed to other books, including a multi-author picture book on Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan and as a co-author on the 2001 biography, Cal: Celebrating the Career of a Baseball Legend, about Orioles Hall of Famer Cal Ripken.

He's also been witness to some of the greatest moments in sports as a reporter on 25 World Series, seven Super Bowls, the NBA Finals, the Olympic Games and many others. He was part of the U.S. delegation that helped organize the historic 1999 home-and-home goodwill series between the Orioles and a Cuban All-Star team, the first cooperative contact between Major League Baseball and Cuba in nearly 40 years.

Schmuck has been recognized by his peers for his excellent work, including six selections as the Maryland Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sports Media Association. He served as president of the Baseball Writers Association of America in 2006.

Table of Contents

1. Yankee Stadium, September 2016

2. The Pee Wee With Power

3. Little Angel With the Big Arm

4. The Little Leaguer Goes Long

5. Hearing the Beat of the Drum

6. Heaven on the Mound at Angel Stadium

7. The Pros Take Aim

8. A Scholarship or a Paycheck?

9. A Crushing Blow

10. Welcome to Utah

11. Back to Baseball School

12. Figuring Out Failure

13. A Detour to the Dominican Republic

14. On Wings of an Angel

15. The Show Stoppers

16. Leading With His Heart

17. Sun, Rain and a Swing Change

18. The Oriole Soars Into Home Run History

Afterword

Mark Trumbo – By The Numbers

Glossary of Baseball Terms

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