Fall 2021 SS Magazine

James McCann heating up for first-place Mets with focus on serving God

Eight wins in their last 11 games have propelled the New York Mets to first place in the National League East with a 29-23 record. The team’s stretch of good results has coincided with an offensive outburst from catcher James McCann.

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McCann played in all but one of those games, hitting .306 with three doubles, four home runs, 12 RBIs and six runs scored. Since the calendar turned to June, he has gone yard three times and driven in nine runs in just 18 at-bats.

An All-Star in 2019 with the Chicago White Sox, the 30-year-old signed a four-year, $40.6 million deal with the Mets this offseason as one of the most coveted free agents on the market. He said on the Sports Spectrum Podcast in March his prayer for free agency was “that God would make my answer simple and easy, and He’d leave no doubt in my mind about where I was supposed to be … that God would lead us to where He wanted us to be. And the Mets were the answer.”

McCann said he’s seen God at work in his life from the moment he was born. Given a 25 percent chance of being born, he defied the odds and arrived completely healthy. He has adopted Mark 10:27 as his life verse, a nod to his personal testimony: “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.'”

The verse is now included in all of McCann’s autographs.

“God has definitely been protecting me from Day One,” he said on the podcast. “But that verse speaks to me so heavily because it says, ‘With man this is impossible.’ Well, man said it was impossible for me just to be here, and they definitely said it was impossible for me to be here without any physical or mental disabilities. And God said, ‘Not so.’ Everything’s possible with God. And here I am not just alive, but having the platform as a Major League Baseball player to share that story.”

The Detroit Tigers selected McCann in the second round of the 2011 draft and he made his major league debut on Sept. 1, 2014. The team parted ways with McCann following the 2018 season, which he acknowledged was his “worst year offensively.”

His .220 batting average was the lowest of his career, but that same year he and his wife Jessica welcomed twin boys following a high-risk pregnancy. Jessica gave birth to Christian and Kane 10 weeks early, leading to a stay in the neonatal intensive care unit before the babies could be taken home on Jan. 26, 2018.

“Had I not had that season, I probably would have stayed in Detroit, and who knows if I’m an All-Star for Chicago in 2019,” McCann said. “So it was just one of those things where you trust God. You trust that it’s Jeremiah 29:11 – He knows the plans He has for you, and it’s for you to prosper. I’m blessed that it happened so quickly.”

Both McCann and the Mets’ other high-profile offseason acquisition, shortstop Francisco Lindor, got off to slow starts but are heating up as the season gets closer to the halfway point. McCann’s faith helps him manage the ups and downs that come with a 162-game regular season.

“I don’t need to ride the highs. I don’t need to ride the lows,” McCann said. “I can be the same day in and day out because of where I place my identity, and that’s in Jesus.”

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