DULUTH - If Brian McCann's major league career continues like it has started, he may someday have his number honored at Turner Field.
For now, though, the Atlanta Braves catcher is more than content to have his baseball jersey retired by his high school alma mater.
"This means a lot to me," McCann said. "I wouldn't be what I am as a player or a person without Duluth High School."
McCann and Boston Red Sox shortstop Nick Green were honored at halftime of the Wildcats' football game with North Gwinnett on Friday night, each receiving framed jerseys during the ceremonies at wet Cecil Morris Field.
It won't be McCann's familiar No. 16 that will go up on the outfield fence at Franklin Baseball Field, though.
McCann's Braves number is half the one he wore playing for the Wildcats. He had No. 32 at Duluth while setting school records for home runs and RBIs.
"They gave me 16 when I got called up by the Braves," McCann said. "Since I stuck, I figured that it was a lucky number. So I kept it."
Duluth's athletic success in major sports has been limited in recent years, but the school that produced 1980 Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers has a worthy history.
McCann and Green are a big part of that, which is why new Duluth baseball coach Matt Champitto set in motion the idea of retiring the two major leaguers' numbers when he came to the school from Shiloh.
The ceremony was held during a football halftime to assure a bigger crowd and it went off without a hitch despite the wet weather. Rep. Brooks Coleman of Duluth - the stadium voice of the Wildcats for 45 years - came back to serve as emcee.
Green, who graduated five years ahead of McCann, wore No. 20 at Duluth, just like he did when he broke in with the Braves in 2004. "I didn't ask for that number," said Green, who wore No. 22 with the Red Sox this season. "It was just a coincidence that I got it."
Having graduated in 1997, Green was caught by surprise when told his Duluth number was going to be retired. "I didn't think they really remembered me," the 31-year-old said.
McCann, of course, is still fresh in everyone's mind. He was drafted in the second round by the hometown Braves in 2002 and has been named to the All-Star Game in each of his four full seasons with Atlanta.
McCann, who followed older brother Brad at Duluth, hit .438 as a senior and holds the school record for homers (14) and RBIs (38) in a season. He also met his wife, Ashley, while they were students.
Green holds the Wildcats record for hits in a season (41) and career (111), finishing with .396 career average. Duluth made it to the state championship game in 1995 when Green and twin brother Kevin were sophomores.
"It wasn't my best memory," Green said of losing to Columbus that season.
The McCann and Green brothers were also standouts in basketball at Duluth, and former coach and athletics director Joe Marelle was on hand for the ceremonies.
"Brian and Nick were always perfect role models for what an athlete should be," Marelle said. "They did everything the right way. It's great that they are being honored like this. They are great examples for Duluth and students today."
SideBar: Green needs surgery
DULUTH - Nick Green couldn't play for Boston in the American League Division Series because of a bad back. Ahead is surgery to correct the problem.
"I hope to have the surgery next week if I can," Green said Friday.
Green needs to have a disc shaved. By having the surgery as soon as possible, the infielder hopes to be fully ready for spring training.
Green, a minor league invitee to spring training this year, took advantage of his opportunity with the Red Sox and was Boston's regular shortstop until August. He missed the last couple of weeks of the regular season because of the disc problem, which affected his leg.
The 31-year-old is eligible for salary arbitration. "I hope they want me back," Green said. "It's definitely where I'd like to play."
Since breaking in with the Braves in 2004, Green has played with Tampa Bay, the New York Yankees, Seattle and the Red Sox. He hit a walkoff homer to beat the Braves at Fenway Park this season.
- Guy Curtright