McCann remembers father as coach
Catcher recalls bond of CABA 16 & Under World Series title
In Dallas for the CABA 16 & Under World Series, it was a McCann family affair -- Brian behind the plate, his older brother, Brad, out in the field, and his dad, Howard, manning the third-base coaching box.
And the trio was on a mission.
The Georgia Tigers weren't about to let a third opportunity go to waste.
The eye of these Tigers from Gwinnett County in suburban Atlanta was on the championship trophy, a prize that had eluded them two years in a row.
"We finished fourth the year before and it was one of our big goals to win the next year," said Brian McCann.
Finishing 6-1 in the 16-team tournament in 1999, including a convincing 16-2 win over the nationally-recruited Dallas Mustangs in the finals, the Tigers assuaged the sting of a fourth- and fifth-place finish in the two previous years.
It was a tournament Brian McCann describes as the most special of any baseball-related memory with his father.
The now-22-year-old catcher had watched his father coach baseball at the University of Georgia and Marshall University. And he remembers his dad letting him run the bases as a 4-year-old on the UGA field after a Bulldogs win.
But even that didn't match the joy, or even the bond, that the two shared after clinching this tournament win.
"We did it right," said the elder McCann, with a hint of humbleness and pride in his voice. "For my two boys to be on that team with me, that was something really special."
It was special for the father who used to watch his son's games from behind the outfield fence in order to eliminate the parental pressure that can take away from the fun of the game in some cases. For the one who was, and still is, a cornerstone of support for his sons, offering advice only when asked.
As for a 15-year-old Brian on that blistering August day, he couldn't wipe the smile off his face as he stepped onto the bus for the 16-hour ride home.
Yes, there was the trophy.
But more importantly, there was his dad to share it with him.
Jenifer Langosch is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.