McCann enjoying time in the spotlight
Rookie catcher relishing attention after homering off Clemens
HOUSTON -- When Brian McCann checked into his Houston hotel during the early hours of Friday morning, he found that at least for one night, he'd gone from being the second-most famous resident of his apartment to one of the sports world's most celebrated figures.
It had been more than six hours since he'd aroused his hometown of Atlanta with a three-run homer off Roger Clemens in Game 2 of the National League Division Series. Yet he still wasn't sure whether or not to believe those really were images of him that were beaming from his hotel room's television set.
"I still have to pinch myself and make sure it's really me," McCann said late Friday afternoon during the off-day workout at Minute Maid Park.
If McCann needed proof that it certainly was him that delivered the clutch two-out homer off Clemens that propelled the Braves to a necessary Game 2 victory over the Astros, he simply had to look at his cell phone and see that he'd missed approximately 30 calls from friends and family members.
Or the Braves rookie catcher could have just felt his head and found the bruise that had formed after his best friend and roommate, Jeff Francoeur, had slapped him after crossing home plate on the home run. McCann had been on base when Francoeur registered his first Major League hit with an eighth-inning homer against the Cubs on July 7.
"I think I smoked him on the head a little too hard," Francoeur said. "We were so excited."
Among those in attendance at Turner Field was McCann's older brother, Brad, a top prospect in the Marlins Minor League system who was among those sent into hysteria after the second-inning home run. Immediately he left a message for his younger sibling, who had just become the first Brave to homer in his first postseason at-bat.
While McCann wasn't able to relay the message -- which was intended for mature audiences only -- he's still glowing about the fact that he was able to bring joy to his family and at the same time help the Braves even their Division Series at one game apiece.
"Anytime your family gets excited over something that you do, it's definitely a big thrill," said the 21-year-old McCann, who was at Double-A Mississippi until being promoted to Atlanta in early June.
Baseball has been a way of life for the McCann family, which has resided in the northern suburbs of Atlanta for the past nine years. During his sons' earliest years, Howie McCann, the family patriarch, was an assistant coach at the University of Georgia and the head baseball coach at Marshall University.
After watching his son victimize a legendary pitcher while becoming the youngest catcher to ever hit a postseason home run, Howie was beaming with pride. He met Brian after the game outside the home clubhouse at Turner Field.
"He's basically been my hitting coach for my whole life and he's taught me a lot about hitting," Brian said. "He gets more out of it than I do."
Now Howie might have to give his son some public speaking lessons. While on the Dan Patrick Show on ESPN Radio on Friday afternoon, McCann heard his postgame comments and was somewhat embarrassed to have been reminded that he actually used the word "neat" to describe the event.
"I'd like to get a mulligan for that one," McCann said. "I needed something better. That's probably one of the worst interviews of all time."
On the playing field, McCann is just as fierce as he is humble off of it. In fact, before Thursday's game, he told some of his teammates that he felt like he had the aggressiveness of a middle linebacker.
The always hyper Francoeur, who is one of the top candidates to win the NL Rookie of the Year Award, displays that same wild aggressiveness on and off the field.
While opposites in so many ways, the two Braves rookies are as close as friends can be. In McCann's eyes, it's never mattered that he's spent most of his life receiving less attention than his roommate.
"That's something I don't worry about," McCann said. "He's probably going to win Rookie of the Year. He deserves all the attention. I don't mind being in his background or shadow or whatever you want to call it. That's never bothered me one bit."
Nor did it bother anyone for McCann to get his just due and at least for one night become the focus of the sports world.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.