In the days leading up to the Angels' first second-half game on Friday afternoon, Twitter lit up with fans sharing personal photos, videos and anecdotes relaying their unique interactions with Trout, the 26-year-old center fielder who is already considered one of the greatest players in baseball history.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred enraged some in the Angels' front office by suggesting -- innocuously, it seemed -- that Trout lacks fame because he is not "actively engaged" in his own marketability. The Angels followed with a strongly worded statement in which they praised Trout's "humility" and charitable endeavors, adding that "his brand is built upon generously spending his time engaging with fans."
Then social media provided a multitude of examples.
Eddie Matz, a senior writer for ESPN, shared a story of Trout plucking a random child out of the stands from Oriole Park at Camden Yards and hanging out with him throughout batting practice.
A couple weeks ago at Camden Yards, I watched Trout pull a 6-year old out of the pregame crowd. He spent the next 15 minutes with the kid by his side during BP. Stretched with him, chatted with him. Even gave him his bat. Never seen anything like it. It looked like this. pic.twitter.com/eZhagoXeb4— Eddie Matz (@ESPNeddiematz) July 18, 2018
And this. pic.twitter.com/Ct9cVkYovL— Eddie Matz (@ESPNeddiematz) July 18, 2018
And this. pic.twitter.com/NIWJi1P5TU— Eddie Matz (@ESPNeddiematz) July 18, 2018
And this. (h/t Joe Noyes Photography for the stills.) pic.twitter.com/9wVrA7RYzs— Eddie Matz (@ESPNeddiematz) July 18, 2018
Others resurfaced popular videos, like this one of Trout surprising a fan in the Angels' dugout.
Bigger than baseball. pic.twitter.com/27cxnr1HAE— Angels (@Angels) April 5, 2018
Or this one of Trout playing catch with another.
AngelsWin, a popular blog run by Angels fans, started the hashtag "#MikeTroutMoments" for fans to share their own personal experiences and received an assortment of responses. One showed Trout delivering a surprise birthday message.
Since everyone is talking about @MikeTrout, here is a video he sent my son for his 4th birthday. Mike had never met me or my son but you should have seen how excited my son was when he saw the video. #Angels #MikeTrout @Angels pic.twitter.com/VvsNBFhqBb— Josh Howell (@JoshTHowell) July 19, 2018
Another showed him snapping selfies with sailors.
One of my favs- Mike signed 3 baseballs I handed him from the Sailors, then took the time & invited them down to take a selfie with them! @AngelsWin #miketroutmoments Amazing moment! Mike is always there for the fans. pic.twitter.com/1ArHz38Ivn— Jen (@j_mo1414) July 19, 2018
Another showed him holding a crying baby.
Trout, who released his own statement hoping to "just move forward," saw the posts.
"It's cool," Trout said. "Obviously not a lot of people see it, but I take time every day. I make sure I do that. As a kid growing up, I could see myself being in the same shoes as that kid wanting an autograph or wanting to meet their favorite player. I think it's cool to put a smile on people's faces."
Trout doesn't play for the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs or Los Angeles Dodgers and has been to the playoffs only once, in 2014, when the Angels were swept out of the first round. His popularity doesn't come close to matching his outsize talent, but the fault doesn't really lie with anything outside of the Angels' level of success.
Baseball in the modern age doesn't lend itself toward creating transcendent stars the way professional basketball and professional football do. Trout, as authentically straightforward as they come, doesn't really care for that anyway. But his constant interaction with kids -- most of it off camera -- should help baseball bridge the gap with a younger generation that eludes it, more so than any Q score would.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia witnesses these interactions "every day."
"Every day," Scioscia repeated. "He understands, I think, things that are important to fans that goes with a guy of his ability, and he's incredible at it. He's able to do things like that and still focus on playing the game. I think that's what it's all about."
For proof, there's this video of Trout bonding with kids after a spring training game.
And this picture taken before a regular-season contest.
And this one, from a random afternoon.
If @mlb doesn't think @MikeTrout sells the game enough they have never watched him at the ballpark and how much time he spends with the future generation of baseball fans. He is a first class role model and this sport is lucky to have him. #MikeTroutMoments pic.twitter.com/1L0fIvQbxl— Mike Conley (@Bullseye_MC) July 19, 2018
"I've always been doing it," Trout said. "It's for the fans. They come to the ballpark to see you, they spend a lot of money to see their team and their players, and I think it's pretty cool when you go out there and make a kid's day."