Skip to main content

What's Up Magazine

Pro Athletes Worth Watching: Baltimore Orioles’ Mark Trumbo & Washington Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman

Aug 21, 2017 12:15PM ● By Cate Reynolds
By Tom Worgo // Photos by Keith Allison

Baltimore Orioles’ Mark Trumbo

Baltimore Orioles fans love it when the team’s radio broadcaster Joe Angel announces “Jumbo Trumbo.” It means designated hitter and outfielder Mark Trumbo clubbed another home run, and he did it often last season, leading all of baseball with 47. It also ranked as the fourth highest total in club history.

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Trumbo proved to be well worth the $9.15 million the team paid him last year. The trade that originally brought him to Baltimore in December of 2015 was an even bigger bargain because the Orioles dealt backup catcher Steve Clevenger and a reliever for him. But the Orioles had to pay up this past winter after the two-time American League All-Star became a free agent in November. They signed him to a three-year, $37.5 million contract.

The 31-year-old Trumbo, a seven-year veteran, moved around a lot before coming to Baltimore. After playing four years with the Los Angles Angels, he spent the 2014 season with the Arizona Diamondbacks and the following year with both Arizona and the Seattle Mariners.

Suiting up for the Angels meant a lot to Trumbo, who lives in Southern California in the offseason. He grew up rooting for the team and was born and raised only a few miles from Angel Stadium of Anaheim. In a perfect world, he wouldn’t have minded spending his whole career there.

We recently sat down to talk to Trumbo about being baseball’s home run king last year, signing a long-term contract with the Orioles, playing for his hometown team, and his charity work.

You have said Baltimore was the place you wanted to continue your career. You must have been pretty happy to re-sign with the club?

“It was a team that I was quite hopeful I would be able to work out a new contract with. When something did materialize, I was very excited. I experienced my best season here both on the field and off the field. It’s a really quality organization. It really treats the players with respect and allows you to just go out and play the game to the best of your ability.”

This was the first time you became a free agent. What was that experience like?

“It was educational in a lot of ways. It helped me become informed on what exactly teams are looking for and how they evaluate talent. For me, it took until January to get a deal done. There were some other teams interested, but nothing quite made sense until the deal with the Orioles came through.”

What do you think of Joe Angel’s “Jumbo Trumbo” call?

“Yea, I really like it. It’s something that is unique he came up with and it’s pretty catchy. I think some announcers have done some things like it in the past with me.”

How would you explain going from hitting between 22 and 34 home runs early in your career to your 2016 monster season?

“I think offensively, I’ve always done better when I stayed in an aggressive mind-set with the attempt to drive the baseball more as opposed to just putting it in play. I think maybe in years past my philosophy has been a little different. With the lineup we had in Baltimore, this is the type of offensive approach that was best suited for my game.”

You played with former Orioles slugger Nelson Cruz in Seattle. He put up a huge single-season home run total in Baltimore like you did. Did you learn anything from him?

“I really tried to watch him closely. He’s a guy in a similar mold as myself. He’s done a few things better than me. So I really tried to study the things he did and the approach he had dealing with the same pitchers I’d be facing. He was always very approachable to talk to, but watching him was equally important for me.”

Was playing for the Angels a great experience and how did you react to the trade?

“It was a team I grew up rooting for. When I was drafted by them, it was a dream come true, as they say. It only got better once I reached the major leagues, too. But unless you are as talented as the game’s marquee names, then there’s a good chance you have to play in a few different stops. That’s been the case with me. At the time, the trade made sense. If you take out the emotion, from a business standpoint, it added up. They needed pitching. I was one of the assets that could yield that. They got two starting pitchers.”

What would you like to do after your baseball career is over?

“I have given it some thought and I think I have some options that makes sense. I have a number of friends who are in law enforcement. I’ve had my mind on things like that. Detective work has always intrigued me a lot. I’m not saying I would do that for sure, but it makes a lot of sense for me. Music production or studio work also appeals to me. I have thought about coaching as well. Being a hitting coach intrigues me as well. It’s a difficult position. It’s something I would want to make sure I could really do and do it well.”


What do you do on a long road trip on your down time?

“I like watching documentaries and listen to a lot of music. Classic rock is what I probably listen to the most. I like blues and heavier rock, too. I will go to music stores—old vintage guitar shops. I also really do like going out eat with my teammates. I’ll try new restaurants and if something is highly [recommended], I will make a point of going there.”

To what charities do you devote your time?

“I am pretty passionate about youth sports and giving kids the opportunity. I have been very active on the baseball side with money and time over the years. It’s what I know best. Any time you can allow kids the opportunity to do something, it’s all for the better. I have also done some stuff with music charities in Nashville.” 

Washington Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman

Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman is a rarity. In an era characterized by fluid player movement, this season marks Zimmerman’s 13th in D.C. How unusual is that? Only three other players have been with their teams longer. Zimmerman has made the most of his successful run with the franchise, which relocated from Montreal in 2005. He ranks among the club leaders in games played, home runs and hits. He’s also one of the most well-liked and most respected Nationals. And best of all, he is in the middle of a career resurgence.

The 32-year-old Zimmerman got off to the best start ever this season, and Major League Baseball named him its Player of the Month in April. It’s a far cry from the past couple of seasons for Zimmerman when he struggled with a variety of injuries—hamstring, wrist, thumb, shoulder, oblique, rib cage, and plantar fasciitis. The shoulder and throwing issues forced him to move in 2015 to first from third base, a position where he earned a Gold Glove. He’s ably made this adjustment, just as he has with so many other changes during his career. Yet as seriously as Zimmerman regards his job on the field, he considers his work with his charitable foundation just as important.

The Ryan Zimmerman Foundation raises money for Multiple Sclerosis research and treatment. He started it in 2006, and since then the non-profit foundation has raised more than $3 million, according to its website ( Zimmerman’s mother Cheryl has multiple sclerosis. We recently sat down to talk to Zimmerman about his career, his married life as the father of two young children, his foundation, and what he hopes to do after baseball.


Have you been happy to spend your entire career with the Nationals?

“I feel very lucky that I have been able to do that. Not too many people get to do that. I grew up in Virginia Beach and went to the University of Virginia. It’s great for my family. My parents are not far away and they can come see me play and see my girls. I appreciate that. I talk to some of my friends who grew up on the East Coast and play on the West Coast. They don’t get to see their families that much.” 


Can you talk about why you started your foundation and the impact it’s had?

“I started it because of my mom. She has MS. I had Major League Baseball to springboard off of. That has helped. I started off with a golf tournament at home in Virginia Beach that we have been doing for 12 years now. We also do a big event in Charlottesville, where I played college baseball. The foundation has grown into something I am really proud of.”


Do you miss playing third base?

“Yeah. I do miss it, but I enjoy playing first base. I came up playing third base and I think I played third base pretty well. I was proud of that and I worked hard at it. The position change was tough. You are doing something for a long time, then you can’t do it anymore. It takes a while to adjust. But I do really like playing first base. It was a challenge for me to become a good first baseman. I’m still working at it. Being on the other side of the field was different. I was a shortstop growing up and then went to third. The spin of the ball on the other side of the field is different. I’ve never had to catch a ball and throw it to the third-base side of the field.”   


Have the physical demands of baseball gotten tougher as you get older?

“It doesn’t get any easier. But that’s part of the game. It’s that way in any professional sport. As you get older, you have to adapt and learn new things. That’s part of the battle of being able to play at this level for a long time.”


What do you want to do after your baseball career is over?

“I think I want to stay in the game in some capacity. I would like it to be something where I can see my family and where I don’t have to live out a suitcase every seven to 10 days like as a player. But I love the game and the clubhouse part of it. I love talking with guys and working with younger guys. Maybe it could be a role where I go around to minor league teams and help the young players.”


What is your go-to meal before a game and what do you eat after a game? Do you have a favorite restaurant?

“I will eat a big lunch. Before a 7 o’clock game, I will have a snack. I will eat pretty much anything after a game. I don’t discriminate when it comes to food types. I will eat it all. If I had to pick a favorite restaurant, I’d say I really like Bourbon Steak Four Seasons in Georgetown.”


How has life changed since you got married in 2012? How did you meet your wife?

“Marriage brings stability. It’s fun to share the successes or failures in your life with someone. If you can find someone to do that with it’s special. We met through mutual friends. We were just friends for two or three years. We didn’t date. We just kind of saw each other around. Here and there, we would have a drink, talk, and grab dinner. So, we met out casually with friends for a couple of years. The opportunity presented itself and we started dating. It just went from there.” 


You’re known for being a nice and patient person. You have said that’s not the case when it comes to traffic. Can you explain that?

“Not too many things get to me. I am pretty laid back, but traffic just really gets to me. I am not sure why. It’s the only thing. Maybe it’s because half the time you get through whatever you are waiting for, there’s nothing there. That’s what makes me angry. You never know where the backups in this city are. [Route] 395 coming into the stadium is always bad. So I stay clear of the city coming in (from Great Falls, Virginia).” 


What is your favorite city to visit on a road trip?

“Chicago is also a fun city in the summer when the weather is nice. And I really like going to the West Coast. San Diego is really nice. The weather is gorgeous. The hotel we stay in is right next to the ball park. You go up the escalator and they have a walking bridge to the stadium. I can leave my room and be in the clubhouse in five minutes.”