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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
DUNEDIN - It seemed like every time Brett McKean looked up as a kid, all he saw was baseball.
There was his father, Jim, former major-league umpire and now supervisor of major-league umpires. There was his brother, Jamie, a member of Clearwater Central Catholic's 2002 state championship team, who now is on the squad at the University of Tampa.
Then of course, there has always been his own expectations.
"Last year, I kind of put up a peak for myself," CCC's lanky but smooth junior centerfielder said. "I just have to keep getting better at that pace now."
Last year was some kind of sophomore year for McKean. He finished with a .425 batting average and received the George Koutsourais hitting award in the Spring Classic after going 7-for-10.
McKean's average this season has dropped to the mid .300s. After playing in two wooden bat leagues over the summer and looking ahead to his senior year, where he will have to fill the void left by Bobby Uzdavines, both he and his father know what he needs most.
"Twenty-five pounds," said Jim, who has worked five World Series in his career behind the plate. "He's been in the cages with the big leaguers. He's been around a lot and he knows a lot. He needs to get physically stronger. He's very coachable."
McKean acknowledged he might not have much of a life outside of baseball. The admitted cage rat works hours on his swing, which is fluid and controlled from the left side of the plate. He can cover some grass in the outfield too.
He played Little League at Forest Lake and decided to follow in his brother's footsteps at CCC (4-5). Marauders coach Todd Vaughn likes his upside.
"He's vocal. He works hard. He runs the show for us out there in the outfield," Vaughn said. "He can do everything at the plate that we want him to do. Bunt, slap it, drive it."
McKean wears his emotions on his sleeve. In the Marauders' 9-0 win over Northside Christian on Thursday, McKean had a relatively quiet day at the plate. He drove in the game's third run in the second inning with a sacrifice to short centerfield and came back to the dugout distraught.
"He wants to swing for the fences," his father said.
"I think I know a lot and I know what I need to do," Brett said after the game. "I know when I need to do it, too."
His father, Vaughn and most everyone else expected him to sacrifice in that second inning, but Brett probably expected a little more.