Braves catcher knocks opposite-field single for milestone, homers in win
ATLANTA -- When Brian McCann collected a hit in his first Major League at-bat, he was a bright-eyed 21-year-old kid, who was savoring the opportunity to realize a childhood dream just 30 minutes from his suburban Atlanta home.
Eight years later, McCann is a six-time All-Star, who has collected a multitude of memories while having the pleasure of playing his entire career for the hometown Braves.
The latest cherished memory was created on Monday night, as McCann notched the 1,000th hit of his career while helping the Braves claim a 7-2 win over the Pirates. After reaching this milestone with a seventh-inning broken-bat single off of Pittsburgh left-hander Mike Zagurski, McCann smiled as he stood at first base and acknowledged the loud ovation he received from the fans at Turner Field.
"It's a cool moment," McCann said. "When you're a kid, you don't think you're going to get a hit in the big leagues, let alone a thousand. It's a cool milestone. I'm hoping to get many more."
Adding to the significance of this moment was the reality that this could be McCann's last year in Atlanta. He is expected to draw serious attention on the free-agent market from multiple American League teams that will be able to use him as a designated hitter when he is not catching.
"To make it up here to the big leagues and then to stay for a while and get a thousand hits here, it's something I'll never forget," McCann said.
It was fitting that McCann's milestone hit was an opposite-field single that he sent toward the left-field line. This was something he did on a routine basis before his right shoulder began bothering him last year. McCann missed the first month of this season recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.
"It's more impressive to watch when he hits the lefty right down the left-field line," first baseman Freddie Freeman said. "I love to see people go opposite field. To get it for your 1,000th hit off a tough lefty like that ... I've only been here three years to watch him, but it's been a great time."
Freeman had just completed his sophomore year of high school when McCann singled off Oakland's Dan Haren in his first Major League at-bat. The hit came during a 6-4 loss at Turner Field on June 10, 2005.
Exactly one week shy of the eighth anniversary of that memorable debut, McCann further entrenched himself in Braves' lore. Del Crandall, Javy Lopez and Joe Torre are the only other players in franchise history to collect 1,000 hits while primarily playing the catcher's position.
"I hope to get another thousand," McCann said. "I'm going to keep going and keep playing well."