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McCann announces retirement after NLDS loss

@mlbbowman
October 9, 2019

ATLANTA -- 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

ATLANTA -- 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.”

As McCann made this revelation to a throng of media members gathered around his locker, Freddie Freeman, Dallas Keuchel, Tyler Flowers and other Braves players stood a few steps away, paying their respects to the veteran catcher, who was seemingly beloved by most every teammate he ever had.

“I grew up watching the Atlanta Braves,” Ronald Acuña Jr. said through an interpreter. “We all did. I was fortunate enough to watch his career when he was coming up. What else is there to say about him? Veteran, superstar, tremendous seasons that he had, terrific career, tremendous impact here for the organization.”

Acuña was seven when a 21-year-old McCann arrived on the Major League scene to become teammates with two of his childhood heroes -- Chipper Jones and John Smoltz. The young catcher was part of the Baby Braves, a group of rookies who helped Atlanta clinch the last of its 14 consecutive division titles.

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.

“He’s a manager’s dream when it comes to a player who can simultaneously play for you, but also be an extension of the coaching staff and an extension of the message that impacts so many,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said in March. “The way he handled the World Series in '17, he and I worked in constant communication about how to handle the pitching staff. He and I are forever linked, and I’ll never forget his impact on our organization.”

When McCann returned to the Braves this past offseason, he was reunited with Brian Snitker, who delighted in the chance to manage the catcher at the Minor and Major League levels. Snitker was Double-A Mississippi’s manager when McCann was promoted from Mississippi to Atlanta in June 2005.

So, Snitker informed McCann he was going to the big leagues and then had the pleasure to serve as his last big league manager.

“To get a chance to do this with him, it’s something I’ll always remember,” McCann said.

As McCann produced a .749 OPS and homered 12 times this season, he delighted in the chance to play in front of his friends and family members. But now, he looks forward to the chance to spend more time with his wife, Ashley, and children, Colt and Colbie, who routinely had the chance to watch him play this year.

“I went to high school here,” McCann said. “I grew up here. I got to play nine years to start my career here. I got to play with some of my heroes. I got to leave and come back with this new generation. I’d say that’s a success. I had a long career. Fifteen years is a long time catching every day and I got to do it in my hometown.”

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).

“He’s one of the best to do it,” Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson said. “There’s just so many things for us away from what he does on the field that makes such a lasting impact.”

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.