#CardCorner: 2015 Topps Mike Trout

Part of the CARD CORNER series
Written by: Larry Brunt

Hall of Fame staffers are also baseball fans and love to share their stories. Here is a fan's perspective from Cooperstown.

When Mike Trout burst onto the scene in 2012, it wasn't only his combination of power and speed that enthralled fans. Part of his appeal from the very beginning was the obvious joy with which he played the game. Even during his September call-up in 2011, before he put up monster numbers, I loved watching him play because of his unbridled enthusiasm. So when it came to Mike Trout baseball cards, I was an “early adopter.”

While many of Mike Trout's baseball cards capture that enthusiasm, perhaps none does it as well as his 2015 Topps Stadium Club Card. Topps re-introduced the Stadium Club line in 2014, going back to the premium-style set that had originally launched in 1991 as a response to Upper Deck. As it did before, the new Stadium Club set featured compelling photography on full-bleed, borderless cards. They are a pleasure to hold, on thick cardstock and with a smooth, high-gloss finish.

2015 Mike Trout Topps Stadium Club card. (Milo Stewart, Jr. / National Baseball Hall of Fame)

Mike Trout’s 2015 card is a great example of Stadium Club’s emphasis on photography, as well as Trout's joy. The card shows Mike Trout, helmet off, half-running/half-skipping to home plate. His mouth is open into a grinning yell, his eyes focused straight ahead. Fans in the background are uniformly standing and clapping.

The image was captured on July 4, 2014, when a capacity, holiday crowd of 43,557 fans gathered at Angel Stadium for some baseball and fireworks. Little did they know that the biggest fireworks would be provided by Trout himself.

The Angels had fallen behind the Houston Astros 6-3 early, but the Angels chipped away with two in the bottom of the fourth and one more in the 7th to tie the game at 6. That score held into the bottom of the ninth inning, when Mike Trout stepped to the plate. He faced Houston pitcher Tony Sipp, who came into the game with a 1.54 ERA. Trout quickly fell behind 0-2 on two called strikes.

Trout, just 22 years old, stepped out of the box, adjusted his gloves, then stepped back in. Sipp stared in, and Trout called time out, then stepped out again. He took a smooth practice swing, tugged at his belt, walked toward the box, adjusted his helmet, then stepped to the plate. He took two slow swings and waited. Sipp threw an 84 mile per hour slider, low and inside, probably a ball. But Trout swung.

The ball rocketed off the bat on a line. Trout ran hard out of the box, thinking extra bases, hands chopping the air; the line drive kept rising. According to ESPN Stats and Information’s Hit Tracker, the ball launched off Trout’s bat at 108 mph, and though it only reached an apex of 63 feet, the ball easily sailed over the wall in deep left-center, just as Trout rounded first.

He threw a fist into the sky and shouted and flew the rest of the way around the bases, whooping and jumping and watching his teammates spill over the dugout rail and onto the field. After he gave a full-force, waist-high hand slap to the third base coach, he flung his helmet into the air and started bounding on his tip-toes, “creeping toward the plate,” Angels radio announcer Terry Smith described it. He slowed down, hollering with his teammates who had gathered around the plate.

That is the precise moment captured on the card: Trout with all his joy and enthusiasm on full display.

“The adrenaline rush you get when it goes out,” Trout later said, “it’s something special.”

It was his 20th home run. The Angels were on their way to a Major League leading 98 regular season wins, and Mike Trout was on his way to his first MVP award.

After he shuffle-stepped onto home plate and his teammates mobbed him and slapped him on the back and ripped at his jersey, after he stood and looked up to the sky and shouted for joy, as the fireworks started shooting over overhead, Angels television announcer Mark Gubicza said, "Is there anything that youngster can't do in this game of baseball?"

Two years later, and we are still asking that same question.

Larry Brunt is the Museum’s digital strategy intern in the Class of 2016 Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development. To support the Hall of Fame Digital Archive Project, please visit www.baseballhall.org/DAP

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