MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – When heading off to college, the journey of finding a suitable roommate can be tough. Some people end up with likable roommates while some end up living with their worst enemy.
West Virginia University baseball assistant coach Steven Trout ended up getting paired with a lifelong friend in a random roommate placement at TCU in Fort Worth, Texas. That friend was also his teammate on the Horned Frogs baseball team.
His roommate was Jake Arrieta. Yes, the Chicago Cubs Jake Arrieta.
“Our first year, Coach placed us together (as roommates),” Trout said. “We lived together and we didn’t even know each other. We lived in a little condo there together and from there we just became good friends. We were obviously around each other every day . . . I was in his wedding and then he was in my wedding a few years later.”
Both Trout and Arrieta had successful college careers at TCU. Trout played mostly third base as well as a little first and second. His senior year, Trout played all but three games at third, just a few feet away from the pitchers mound where his good friend Arrieta went to work.
“We won two conference championships there (at TCU),” Trout said. “We also won the conference tournament both years we were there, too. Just a ton of wins, it was always fun. Him (Arrieta) rolling out on Friday nights cause you knew that was a win, almost guaranteed. It was just fun to play defense behind him and of course when I played third I was the last one to give him the ball so it was fun to just hand it to him and watch him go dominate.”
Arrieta has quickly become one of the most recognizable faces in the MLB. It all started back in August of this year when he threw his first career no-hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
From there, he became the Chicago Cubs pitching hero. Currently, Arrieta has a 22-6 win-loss record with an ERA of 1.77. He led the playoff-drought prone team to a NL Wildcard win in Pittsburgh. The Cubs then won their first ever postseason series at Wrigley Field this past week when they defeated the St. Louis Cardinals, giving them a chance to play for the National League Championship next week.
According to Trout, he knew what Arrieta was capable of back in college, but never thought he would end up becoming one of the top pitchers in the world.
“You had an idea that he was gonna be really good and have a chance,” Trout said. “His sophomore year, he led the whole country in wins so you knew his talent level was off the charts. I think once he got a fresh start with the Cubs, you could just see his mentality and even just talking with him, he was still very confident in himself.”
“Obviously I never thought he’d be doing what he’s doing right now,” said Trout. “I thought he had the stuff to maybe win a Cy Young, but never thought he’d go on a run like he has now and it’s just been fun to watch.”
Trout says he often speaks with Arrieta, especially via text message following his biggest games. He also tries his best to make it to Pittsburgh anytime the Cubs play the Pirates, although he wasn’t able to make it to the Wildcard game a few weeks ago.
“We usually text,” Trout said. “Anytime he comes to Pittsburgh I usually go up and watch him. Sometimes I stay with him and get to hang out, but usually after a good start, the no-hitter obviously, but anytime on that whole streak I just shoot him a text and not try to bother him too much but we usually text the next day and he always get back to me.”
The funny part of Trout’s story is that he actually had hopes (just like a majority of young baseball players) of playing in the MLB. Ironically enough, his dream was to be on the Chicago Cubs.
“As a kid, you always grow up wanting to be a Major League Baseball player,” Trout said. “The crazy part about what Jake’s (Arrieta) doing right now is I actually grew up wanting to be a Chicago Cub cause I’m a huge Cubs fan. So now that he’s doing what he’s doing, it’s kind of a full 180. Eventually I realized, hey, maybe I can make a better career being a college baseball coach.”
Although Steven Trout didn’t end up playing in the Major League, he’s had a rather successful career with the West Virginia Mountaineers as head coach Randy Mazey’s right hand man.
Trout’s main job on the team is to work with the hitters and the infielders. He handles anything related to both including drills and practice regimes. He also plays a big role in the recruiting process for West Virginia.
“I always knew I wanted to coach,” said Trout. “Until I got to TCU, I realized this seems like a pretty interesting career I wanna go down so just getting to know Coach Mazey when he coached me there and Coach (Derek) Matlock coached me there, too, so just seeing the success we had it was really neat.”
Trout spent time coaching at various levels with various teams before he and Mazey ended up together coaching Division I level baseball at WVU.
“I was kind of in the process of looking for a job already and it worked out perfect that Randy (Mazey) got the job here and asked me to be an assistant, Trout said. “He wanted people he was familiar with and people he could trust and it just worked out perfect.”
Trout says he hopes to spend many more years in Morgantown working with the Mountaineers.
“I think it’s a really special place,” he said. “Recruiting is really starting to pick up and I think we have a chance to do some really special things here and I’m very excited.”
As for his lifetime buddy Jake Arrieta and his beloved Cubs, he’s even more excited.
“I hope so,” he said, in regards to the Chicago Cubs winning the 2015 World Series.
Cover image credit: MLB.com and WVU Baseball