It was the bottom of the fifth inning at Angel Stadium last July 19, the first night of Major League Baseball games following the All-Star break in New York. Mike Trout, who had helped the American League to a 3-0 win over the National League, stepped to the plate to face Oakland right-hander A.J. Griffin.
Trout looked at two breaking balls for a 2-0 count, then swung with all of his might at an 89-mph four-seamer. He fouled it back into the screen and the ball was removed from play, relayed to an MLB authenticator who was on hand.
"That's a pretty good swing right there by Trout," said Mark Gubicza, the former Royals pitcher who was doing color commentary for Fox Sports West. "Good fastball count, got a fastball, fouled it straight back."
Griffin then threw an 81-mph low changeup, and Trout manufactured all the power himself in smashing it into the seats in left-center for his 16th home run, a solo shot that gave the Angels' star 60 RBIs and an 11-game hitting streak at the time.
We bring up that particular Trout moment here as a new season awaits, not just as a reminder of the kind of drama that awaits all teams on this Opening Day but also to tell you what happened to those two balls. The one knocked into the seats belongs to a lucky fan who snagged it that night. And the "timing ball" that Trout fouled back and Gubicza continued to talk about even after the homer can be yours right now at the MLB.com Auction, where all the items have their own story and many like that one benefit charitable foundations.
Now is a great time to explore the MLB.com Auction because it has just been relaunched this week by MLB Advanced Media. Get to know the new bidding home of baseball there, while you wait for game-used Opening Day items from Australia to show up in the days to come. Some of the new features of the MLB.com Auction include:
• The ability to share your bids on social media for the first time: Bid on that Trout ball -- or maybe this second-base bag that he actually stole on Sept. 25, 2012, for No. 47 of 49 -- and then let your Facebook and Twitter friends see what you just won if you are the highest bidder.
• Photo enlargement: If you're bidding, you want to see as much detail as possible, like the autograph signed inside the No. 7 by Max Scherzer on one of his 2013 No. 37 Tigers home jerseys, a way to commemorate his AL Cy Young Award season.
• Hot Items: Now you have one click to a view of where the real action is. The Rangers' infield player bundle of four game-used jerseys is hot, with 32 bids as of Wednesday morning. It includes each hologram number so you can identify the jersey usage, and Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus are included.
• Auction Item of the Week: Collectors will like what we are just calling the "1 of 1s." Start out with a Miguel Cabrera limited edition 1 of 1 collectible, commemorating his historic 2012 AL Triple Crown season. It's a 36-by-30-inch frame with triple matting and features images of Cabrera, an actual No. 24 cut out of the back of a Tigers road jersey from that year, wood from a game-used bat from that year and dirt from Comerica Park. Be on the lookout for other 1 of 1s.
• Ultimate Experiences: Watch Cubs BP, sit in the owners' seats, throw out the ceremonial first pitch, just your average experience at Wrigley Field in the 100th-anniversary season, helping Cubs Charities. Watch BP at Turner Field and then enjoy four great seats, while helping the Braves Foundation. At Yankee Stadium, you can swing for the fences.
• Featured Items: Scroll down the main auction page for listings of freshly added stuff, such as an Autographed Lou Brock 10-by-14-inch unframed 1969 Topps Archive print.
In general, the new Auction home looks more like the MLB.com Shop, and baseball fans are used to streamlined shopping there. It is one of the many new looks you will be seeing around MLB.com as another regular season gets underway.