CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) — The Los Angeles Angels are close to finalizing the biggest sports contract in history with Mike Trout, who played for the Cedar Rapids Kernels at one point in his career.
The contract is worth more than $430 million over the next 12 years.
“We knew, I mean there was no question there was something special about Mike Trout,” said Kernels I.T. and Communications Manager, Andy Pantini who watched Trout play from the press box.
Even from the beginning, the Kernels knew they found something special in number 20, an 18-year-old from New Jersey.
“And the fact that he is just a real and approachable person,” said Pantini. “He was tabbed as being one of the best players in baseball.”
In fact, it was right from his first at-bat, said General Manager at the time, Jack Roeder, “He hit a ball it was a routine ground ball to 2nd and I didn’t think anything of it… till he’s safe and I was like wait a second? did I miss something here?”
Roeder, who was general manager from 1991 to 2010, couldn’t believe his eyes.
“I went and watched the re-play and yeah he beat out a routine ground ball. That’s kind of why he’s so great, you combine his power, his speed there’s really nothing he can’t do on the baseball field.”
Despite his short time on the Kernels Feild, Trout made a name for himself. He earned the most valuable player and the prospect of the league.
“We knew he’d be a great player… just from what he had done. He had a .364 in the rookie league, I believe as a 17-year-old, before coming here,” said Roeder.
The news of Trouts likely record-breaking contract has spread throughout the stadium.
“I was happy if anyone deserves it, it’s certainly him,” said Roeder.
As the Kernels prepare to welcome fans for the opening day, they remember Trout and the other big names who have passed through these walls.
“Whether you are a fan or whether you worked here, you can say that you saw arguably one of the greatest players of all time,” said Roeder.
During Trouts seven season in the majors, he’s been a seven all-time Star Selection, six-time Silver Slugger, American League Rookie of the Year, and has won two American League M.V.P. awards.