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by Graham Meyer
THEN Pitcher, Chicago White Sox (1978–82) and Chicago Cubs (1983–87)
NOW Entrepreneur, writer
Steve “Rainbow” Trout might be best remembered for something he didn’t do—at least according to him. In 1985, Trout wound up on the disabled list, supposedly after falling off a stationary bike. But Trout says that story is apocryphal, the result of an erroneous published report. In fact, he says, he injured himself when he skidded on a patch of gravel and fell while biking with his family.
Trout, 53, who lives in Chicago, hopes fans remember instead his glittering performance in the 1984 National League Championship Series against the San Diego Padres. In the wake of his finest season—he had gone 13–7 with a 3.41 ERA that year—Trout started Game 2 of the playoffs and throttled the Padres, putting the Cubs within one win of their first National League pennant since 1945. Cubs fans know the rest of the story: the nightmarish unraveling that prevented a rematch of the 1945 World Series against the Detroit Tigers, which would have had special meaning for Trout. “My dad pitched for the Tigers in 1945 and beat the Cubs,” he says. “My mom and I were getting phone calls for interviews because of the great baseball story: ‘The son of the great Dizzy Trout is going to pitch for the Cubs against his father’s old team.’”
After his retirement in 1989, Trout penned a memoir, Home Plate: The Journey of the Most Flamboyant Father and Son Pitching Combination in Major League History. He just completed his second book, John’s Journey, about his travels through India, an attempt to reconnect with his deceased brother. He made personal appearances and coached baseball, most recently at a high school in Hawaii after answering a newspaper want ad. Lately, he has taken an entrepreneurial turn, inventing two training aids. One is called the Lesson Ball, a baseball emblazoned with 20 essential tips for pitchers. The other, Focus Training Plates, includes a series of home plates of varying sizes and colors to be placed at different distances from the mound. “Shortening the distance and shrinking the target keeps young pitchers from trying to just throw the ball as hard as possible, and instead gets them to work on their mechanics, control, and focus,” he says. “I don’t have a patent for it yet, but I like the idea.”
Photography: (Trout, then) Bob Fila/Chicago Tribune; (Trout, now) courtesy of Steve Trout