Truett’s Chick-fil-A Sports
Brian McCann, an anchor of the league champion Rome Braves in the 2003 inaugural season, is going home ‘to play with my kids. This is it.’ Rome will never see another season like the first one for the single-A Braves. A brand-new stadium lured the team from Macon. At $15 million-plus, it was the pride of the league. On the field was a manager who already had some success in the minors, Rocket Wheeler, at the Tennessee Smokies. His players came from nearby Gwinnett County, from other states and from other countries.
They opened on the road as the finishing touches were put on the just-christened State Mutual Stadium. By mid-April, the Rome Braves were packin’ em in to see guys like Jeff Francoeur, Blaine Boyer, Anthony Lerew and a catcher named Brian McCann (2003 roster). The fans loves them and the players in return.
Even on scalding-hot summer Sunday afternoons, after three hours on the field, they’d come out of the clubhouse on the third base side and sign autographs, maybe even hold a kid or 10. They might not have known it but those moves earned them young fans who’d go on to wear no. 16, McCann’s most-used number, in their own sports careers.
By mid September of 2003, those same Braves were the champions of the South Atlantic League.
It wasn’t long before the more than a handful made their way to the Major League clubs, including Francoeur and McCann, teammates again on the Atlanta Braves. Each went on to have differing careers. “Frenchy” is now helping broadcast Atlanta Braves’ games and the National League Championship Series. Dan Meyer returned as a Rome coach. Wes Timmons is the head baseball coach at Shorter University.
Through it all, McCann played on. Much of his career was spent with Atlanta followed by three years with the Yankees and two seasons with the Houston Astros, where he collected a World Series ring. A free agent last fall, he quickly signed a one-year, $2 million deal to return home, to the Atlanta Braves.
This last season was a good one but the wheels were slowing. Some of the national stories included references to McCann’s many accomplishments and a dubious crack or two about his sprint speed. It didn’t matter. McCann and these new Braves kept winning, first a division title and then a trip to the post season. It ended with a thud, a 13-1 loss to Saint Louis at home on Wednesday evening.
That broke fans’ hearts. But then McCann finished the job by announcing he was done. He made the decision in August. Fittingly, he was on deck as the last out was recorded Wednesday night.
From some fast Google research, it appears “BMac” was the last Rome Brave standing as an active player. It doesn’t matter; he’s been a champion in the minors and the majors, and his legacy is enough. Sports writers have been pretty quick to point out McCann doesn’t have Hall of Fame numbers despite all his contributions. That’s an argument for another day.
As we said, Rome will never season another season like 2003. Even the 2016 league title doesn’t compare. Just as certain: We’ll never see another player like Brian McCann.
McCann: ‘This is it for me . . .’
Brian McCann got everything he wanted from his final Major League season, minus the thrill of helping the Braves return to the World Series for the first time since he was a suburban Atlanta teenager who dreamed of playing for his hometown team.
After the Braves’ season unceremoniously ended with a 13-1 loss to the Cardinals in Game 5 of the National League Division Series on Wednesday night, McCann announced he had just played the last game of a 15-season career that included seven All-Star selections.
“This is everything that I wanted to do,” McCann said. “I wanted to come back and get a chance at the postseason. This is it for me, so I’m going to go home and be a dad and play with my kids. This is it.”
McCann hit a home run off Roger Clemens in his first career postseason at-bat during Game 2 of the 2005 NLDS and earned the first of six consecutive All-Star selections the next year. He helped the Braves return to the postseason during manager Bobby Cox’s final season in ’10 and helped Atlanta win another division title in ’13.
After playing for the Yankees from 2014-16, McCann was traded to the Astros, who recognized the significant role he played in them winning the ’17 World Series.
McCann’s 282 career home runs ranks eighth all-time among MLB catchers. He is one of four catchers in the modern era (since 1900) to hit 20 homers in at least 10 different seasons. Hall of Famers Mike Piazza (10) and Ivan Rodriguez (7) are the only catchers to garner more Silver Slugger Awards than McCann (6).
Expanded story from MLB, the Braves. Click
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
- John McClellan’s high school picks to win this Friday night. McClellan.
Friday night’s schedule:
- Rome (4-2, 3-1) at East Paulding (0-5, 0-3)
- Unity Christian School (7-0) at Harvester Christian Academy (4-3)
- Adairsville (3-3, 2-2) at Calhoun (4-1, 2-1)
- Cartersville (6-0, 2-0) at LaGrange (2-3, 0-2)
- Hiram (3-2, 3-0) at Cass (3-3, 2-2)
- Woodland (1-5, 0-4) at Carrollton (6-0, 4-0)
- Haralson County (5-0, 3-0) at Sonoraville (3-2, 2-1)
- Cedartown (2-4, 1-1) at Central of Carrollton (3-3, 1-1)
- Trion (5-1, 3-0) at Christian Heritage (4-1, 1-1)
- Off this Week: Armuchee, Coosa, Model, Pepperell, Darlington, Gordon Central, Rockmart.
LOCAL. STATE COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Berry Vikings football will host its annual “Community Day” this Saturday beginning at 11 a.m. in advance of the team’s Southern Athletic Association matchup with Hendrix College at 2 p.m. The Vikings will welcome groups from Rome and Floyd County, including local schools and the Boys & Girls Club as well as all fans from Northwest Georgia. Children who wear their team uniforms (school, recreation league or other local groups) will receive two free tickets to the game. Berry will also have carnival games set up outside the entrance to Valhalla where fans can compete for prizes. Tickets are available online or can be purchased at the gate on Saturday for $5. Berry is ranked No. 7 in the latest American Football Coaches Association Top-25 and sports a perfect 5-0 record. Hendrix will enter Saturday with a 4-0 record.
- Atlanta Braves blasted in the first; Cardinals never look back. Final: 13-1, Saint Louis. Season over for Braves. Latest updates @ Atlanta
Atlanta United. Next: Playoffs on Oct. 19 at MBS. ATLUTD
HIGH SCHOOL SOFTBALL
State softball first round pairings with best-of-three series: Click for brackets
- 4A Cedartown eliminated as Flowery Branch wins 7-4.
- 2A: Rockmart advances to next round.
- 5A Woodland advances to next round.
- Private A Darlington eliminated by Mt. Paran Christian, 8-6 and 16-9.
- Rome Braves’ 2020 season schedule; open at home with seven-game stretch on April 9. 2020
- Pictures: Mills Fitzner’s photos from 2008-18, archive / Click here to see the 2019 season’s galleries.