"McBride caught it," McCann said. "It bounced into the bullpen."
The cost of returning the ball to its proper owner?
"My friendship," McCann said.
Where's the ball going?
"Probably in a little case in the house," McCann said of his most famous keepsake.
Once again, Atlanta got a big boost from a rookie.
Game 2 swung in the Braves' favor on McCann's three-run shot off Clemens, which gave Atlanta a 3-1 lead that starter John Smoltz wasn't about to surrender.
McCann became the first Brave to homer in his first postseason at-bat. The feat was accomplished three times last year.
As if that accomplishment isn't historic enough, McCann connected off arguably the greatest pitcher in history. Taking Clemens deep is something McCann dreamed about as a kid while playing ball in the yard and making up imaginary opponents. Actually doing it is something he struggles to put into words.
"The history behind him is greater than any pitcher I've faced," McCann said. "I guess I got lucky. He got a pitch up in the zone."
With two on, two outs and Smoltz on deck, McCann was sitting on a fastball after Clemens fell behind, 2-0. Sure enough, he got a fat fastball and deposited it 409 feet away over the wall in right-center field.
Homers in first career Division Series at-bat
|2005||Brian McCann||Atlanta Braves|
|2004||Tom Wilson||Los Angeles Dodgers|
|2004||Jason Lane||Houston Astros|
|2004||Raul Chavez||Houston Astros|
|2003||Todd Walker||Boston Red Sox|
|2000||Mark McGwire||St. Louis Cardinals|
|2000||Joe Oliver||Seattle Mariners|
|1999||Edgardo Alfonzo||New York Mets|
|1998||Shane Spencer||New York Yankees|
|1997||Harold Baines||Baltimore Orioles|
|1996||Brady Anderson||Baltimore Orioles|
|1996||B.J. Surhoff||Cincinnati Reds|
|1995||Benito Santiago||Baltimore Orioles|
On contact, McCann knew it was gone, and the elation spilled over to his teammates, who pushed him out for a curtain call.
"It reminded me of my first Major League at-bat," McCann said of the emotions he felt stepping to the plate. "It's the same feeling, the magnitude. You can't really feel your legs. You just try to calm yourself down as much as possible."
McCann's blast set a tempo the Braves never relinguished.
Born on Feb. 20, 1984, McCann was about 12 weeks old when Clemens made his Major League debut with the Red Sox on May 15, 1984.
"[It was] a very hittable pitch," Clemens said. "Guys on this level, whether he's 21 or 41, are going to hit that. He took advantage of it. I've given up some home runs in my career, but it was probably pretty exciting for that kid. I know the crowd definitely got into it, and that's what you want to keep away from when you're pitching on the road."
Andruw Jones got the second-inning rally going with a single, and he advanced to second on Adam LaRoche's sacrifice bunt. Jeff Francoeur had a key at-bat, working out a walk. With two outs, McCann stepped up and delivered.
"He's been the best pitcher in baseball -- he and Smoltz," McCann said. "It's just something I'll never forget. With the pitcher on deck and two outs, we had runners in scoring position. I was definitely going to go up and hack and try to get a bloop hit or something."
The trot around the bases he said he wished could last forever.
"It's going to be in his scrapbook the rest of his career," Smoltz said. "Roger Clemens is pretty much in a class by himself."