“Pitchers and catchers report.”
For baseball fans, it’s the phrase that made cold, grey February almost bearable. The signal that the boys of summer are ready for spring. A reminder that opening day is just around the corner and all things are possible – including a little event in October.
That phrase was also the cue for one Gwinnett household to load up the pups and head south in mid-February, moving home base to Orlando for six weeks of Atlanta Braves spring training. While we’re counting the days till March 31 and the first pitch of the Braves 2011 season, Brian and Ashley McCann are calling Lake Buena Vista and the Braves training facility home.
Braves fans everywhere know the Brian McCann story. But Gwinnett County fans take special pride in claiming the former Duluth High School star as one of our own – cheering as McCann progressed, at almost unheard of speed, from high school standout to the Braves starting catcher and an MLB All-Star. In his first five years in the league, Brian has earned four National League Silver Slugger titles and was the 2010 All-Star Game MVP. He is the first Braves player in franchise history to hit a home run in his first playoff at-bat – off Roger Clemens, no less– and the only Braves player ever to be selected to the National League All-Star team in each of his first three seasons.
The “dream come true” aspects of this are not lost on Brian. “I’m living a fantasy. Coming up in high school, you just want to get drafted — and then the team that drafts you is your hometown team. To live here year round…to have my family and friends come to the games… it just doesn’t get any better.”