Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann, along with recent retiree Chipper Jones, teamed up for the McCann Rally Softball Charity Event Nov. 3 at Coolray Field, home of the Gwinnett Braves. McCann’s charity raises money to help fund research for cancer that affects children.
“My agent and I came up [with the idea] to do a golf tournament or a softball game. It’s a huge part of what we get to do. We have a platform to speak [and] my wife and I chose this foundation to support,” said McCann. “It keeps getting bigger and better,” said McCann.
The day kicked off at 11 a.m. with events on the field and many children hungry to get a picture and autograph from Jones and McCann. At noon, a mixture of veterans in their respective sport and others took the field for the home run derby in which the youngsters were a part of the outfield crew.
Children fighting cancer were honored before the start of the game as the announcer listed their names and the type of cancer they are fighting. The first pitch took flight shortly after 1 p.m.
In terms of his career in Atlanta, catcher McCann, who’s been with the Braves since 2005, is coming off of surgery to his right shoulder and, while he walked around with his arm in a sling, he noted his recovery is going well.
“I’m excited to be back. I’m doing all right for being two weeks out. I can’t really do a whole lot. I have a sling on half the day so I am resting up,” said McCann.
McCann is a native of Athens and was pleased to be so close to home.
“I’m excited to be back. This is where I grew up [and] the place I know,” said McCann.
McCann and his wife welcomed their first child this past July and McCann admitted that he spends a little bit of time playing Madden once his fatherly duties are done for the day.
“When my kid goes to sleep, I’ll play [Madden],” said McCann.
Since his retirement, one might think that Chipper Jones would want to go into hiding and, even if chooses to do so, McCann is one of the lucky ones that gets to hear from Jones every now and then.
“I talk to him a couple of times. He’s enjoying himself. He’s spending time with his kids and he’s loving it,” McCann said.
McCann spent seven years as a teammate of Jones and admitted it has not hit him yet that Jones will not be on the roster in a few months. When asked about the reality of the Jones retirement, McCann said, “I don’t think it will set in until we get to spring training.”
Jones started his career with the Atlanta Braves in 1995, which was perfect timing as the Braves went on to win the World Series that year. Jones had a fast-paced career and he hasn’t slowed down too much since he took off his cleats.
“[I’ve been] doing a little bit of hunting and I’ve been hanging with the boys. I was at a flag football game right before this. It’s been a lot of fun. It’s been relaxing. I didn’t actually think I’d be strapping on these spikes again but here we are,” Jones laughed.
The world has witnessed the replacement referees make controversial calls but Jones admitted that he doesn’t get rowdy or uptight if a bad call is made.
“I coached a little bit today. I try to stay away from it as much as I can. I sit up in the press box and kind of get away from everybody. My two youngest ones are 7 and 8 and they don’t even keep score. We’re concentrating on discipline and having a good time,” Jones said.
When asked why he joined McCann in his philanthropy, Jones said, “I think we all try to scratch each other’s back when it comes to our personal causes. [We want to] raise some money, raise some awareness and find a cure for cancer.”
The dust has settled on the mound but once it’s cleared off, it will really hit Jones that he is no longer playing for the Braves. However he’s been the face of the organization for so long that he can’t stay away completely from the Braves.
“[It will] probably [be around] spring training. That will probably be when I need to go on a trip, just kind of let them get started without me. I’m sure I’ll make an appearance during spring training,” said Jones.
Jones may be retired but that didn’t meant he was going to take it easy at the plate, although he wasn’t too certain about how strong his performance would be at the softball charity event.
“I’m going to play. I don’t know how good it’s going to look,” Jones laughed.