CHICAGO – One Christmas, James McCann and his brother, Mike, received matching gifts under the Christmas tree. The White Sox catcher doesn’t remember exactly what year it was, except that it was in high school.
“They feel heavy, and you open it up, and there’s a brick,” James McCann said.
Just what every kid wants for Christmas.
But these weren’t just any old bricks. These were both inscribed and destined for the entryway behind home plate at Angel Stadium of Anaheim.
James’ brick said his name, and underneath his name was inscribed, “Live the dream.” Mike’s had his name and the words, “Love the dream.”
When the Sox played at the Los Angeles Angles last month, the McCanns found those bricks outside the stadium.
“It’s pretty cool,” James McCann said. “There’s so many of them out there, we had no idea if we’d be able to find it. My brother’s and mine are right next to each other. That’s a picture that I’ll treasure forever.”
Out of Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, California, James McCann was drafted by the Sox in the 31st round in 2008. He elected not to sign, however, and instead played college ball at Arkansas. The Detroit Tigers selected him in the second round in 2011 after three years playing for the Razorbacks.
McCann’s pro career came full circle this winter when he signed with the Sox after eight seasons in the Tigers organization, including parts of five seasons with the big league club. McCann has put together the best season of his career, which included his first All-Star Game appearance in July. Through Sunday, McCann is hitting .274 with 16 home runs and 55 RBIs.
McCann is living his dream. All those years ago, however, it was just that: a dream.
“We talked about it when we were out there [in Anaheim],” McCann said. “I played for a couple scout teams or whatever [as an amateur], and we got to play at Angel Stadium. I remember thinking how cool it was that I was walking through the same dugout that Vladimir Guerrero was in. Now, I’m walking through it wearing a big league uniform versus a high school uniform.”
Guerrero was a favorite of McCann’s well before his Angels days. When the Hall of Famer was with the Montreal Expos, he tossed McCann a batting-practice ball before a game against the Diamondbacks in Phoenix.
McCann cheered for the Dodgers and Angels, but when they went head-to-head, he was an Angels fan. Darin Erstad, David Eckstein, Adam Kennedy and the 2002 Angels were his guys.
“I still remember like it was yesterday when the Angles won the World Series,” McCann said.
McCann later caught Angels’ All-Star closer Francisco Rodriguez when they both were with Detroit. McCann’s parents, Carla and Jim McCann, always encouraged him to follow his big league dream – like the brick says.
“I was chasing a dream,” McCann said. “It’s definitely a sentimental thing to see the brick outside the stadium. Who would have thought back then that now I’m playing there?”