At first, Jim Cantore thought the question was a joke. Then he saw the blue checkmark verifying the Twitter account that sent it and realized the best baseball player in the world really did want to know everything he could about the size of the snowstorm headed for New Jersey.
“All of a sudden, I get this direct message from Mike Trout,” said Cantore, the Weather Channel’s voluble on-camera meteorologist and among the most trusted voices in forecasting today. “He’s asking me about the storm. Not like, ‘Hey, Jim, it’s Mike.’ He just went right into the details. He was genuinely curious about what the models said.”
For all of Trout’s star power and the possibility of back-to-back American League MVP trophies, precious little is known about him away from the field. Which is why Cantore, a New York Yankees fan, was tickled to learn something that a few Internet sleuths later figured out.
Mike Trout is a weather geek. And if he weren’t patrolling center field for the Los Angeles Angels nightly, the 24-year-old figures he would be holed away in some corner of the northeast where snow falls during the winter delivering the daily weather report on local TV.
“I would love to try it,” Trout said.
Instead, Trout consumes weather information with a voraciousness that’s apparent to his Angels teammates. On his phone, he said, is a folder of apps called “Weather.” Trout scrolls through different models (Global Forecast System, European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, North American Ensemble Forecast System) and others that specify short-, medium- and long-range forecasting. If ever there’s a question about whether the Angels are going to play a particular game with gloomy skies above, they know whom to ask.
Garrett Richards saw Trout’s forecast-following prowess early in his career. The two roomed together in the minor leagues from 2009-11. At Double-A in Little Rock, Ark., they spent late nights grilling food and watching the rain.
“We’d have bad thunderstorms there,” Richards said. “He’d always be checking the radar. And we had a balcony at our apartment. He’d go out there and sit all night.”
Trout’s weather obsession started in the same place as Cantore’s: a deep desire to avoid class and a common bond with dad. “I was young, and I always wanted to get off school,” Trout said. “So I’d ask, ‘When’s the snowstorm coming?’ I was the kid in class who would see snow out the window and start looking at it and want to play with it.” Trout said his father, Jeff, fostered his love for storms even more, and whether it was ski trips or just sitting atop a mountain and watching flakes fall, it mesmerized Trout.
Because he ended up in Los Angeles, Trout grew accustomed to its one season of perfect weather. He lives in Laguna Beach and has a private beach on which he drinks his coffee every morning. Life without snow, he admits, isn’t the worst thing in the world. Still, he can’t help but chase bad weather every now and again. Once during spring training, Trout noticed on a model that Flagstaff, Ariz., was going to get blanketed with snow. The Angels had a day off, so Trout drove the 2½ hours north to watch the storm.
All of Trout’s social-media allusions to weather – tweets from screenshots of the Weather Channel app, other tweets to the wonky @NJWeatherBlogs, Facebook posts of forecasts – led one Reddit user in May to posit a theory: “Mike Trout [maybe secretly] wants to be a meteorologist.” Another user said Trout followed more than 20 weather-related accounts, though a recent look through his followers found no fewer than 36, including one specific to Maryland (@TerpWeather), a local Connecticut TV guy (@TylerJankoski), a handful of AccuWeather experts and, of course, Jim Cantore, with whom he’ll DM regularly during particularly ugly storms.
They’ve discussed helping Trout fulfill part of his childhood dream this offseason. He spends every winter in his house on the outskirts of Millville, the south Jersey town in which he grew up. And should a big storm hit the area this offseason, the Weather Channel wants to offer Trout a correspondent’s gig.
“We’re planning on me doing a story when there’s a big storm in Jersey,” he said. “I’m gonna be on the Weather Channel. Hopefully, we get a big snowstorm.” And if not, perhaps he can do it like Cantore and follow the bad weather where it goes. “A sick vacation for me,” Trout said, “would be to go to upstate New York when a big snowstorm hits.”
In the meantime, all Trout gets to chase are flyballs. Never has he gone after bad weather – Richards, an Oklahoma native, has invited him home to hunt for tornadoes – and considering he’s still improving, Trout may be playing baseball through plenty more El Niños than the one scheduled to hit California this winter. That hasn’t stopped Cantore from dreaming about Trout’s post-career plans and trying to steal him away from post-career baseball-broadcasting opportunities.
“I definitely see this guy chasing tornadoes, standing in snowstorms,” Cantore said. “And I hope I’ll be right there alongside him.”
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