Brian McRae: Former Mets 1990's Out Fielder (1997-1999)

Brian Wesley McRae was born August 27, 1967 in Avon Park, Florida. He is the son of former MLB player Hal McRae. As a young kid Brian McRae became a big fan of his dad’s teammate, during his years in Cincinnati, Pete Rose. 

Brian was a good athlete in high school, playing football as well as baseball. McRae made the decision, if he wasn’t chosen as a first-round draft pick, he would go to college. 
He was shocked when he got a phone call on draft day, telling him he was indeed chosen in the first round, by the Kansas City Royals, the 17th pick overall.

He was originally a second baseman getting converted to an outfielder in the minor leagues. His MLB career certainly wasn’t as good as his father’s career. The switch-hitting Brian McRae never made the playoffs & was predominantly a singles hitter.

He became the Royals everyday centerfielder from 1990-1994, playing for his father, Hal McRae 
who was the teams manager. On July 14th, 1991, he had a career night, with a grand slam & six RBIs in an 18-4 win over the Tigers. That year he also put together a 22-game hit streak.

Brian had his best overall season with the Royals in 1993, batting .282 with 177 hits (9th most in the AL) 12 HRs 28 doubles 9 triples (4th most in the AL) 14 stolen bases & 69 RBIs. He hit 14 sac flies (3rd in the AL) & also struck out 105 times. In 1994 he batted .273 his speed got him 28 stolen bases (7th in the AL) & six triples (5th in the AL)

Cubs Career: As the 1995 season was about to start, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs for future Met, Derek Wallace. McRae spent parts of the next three seasons in Chicago. He would hit 30 or more doubles for the next three seasons as well. 

He hit well in his first season at Wrigley Field leading the NL in at bats (580) batting a career high .288 with 167 hits (4th in the league) with 12 HRs 48 RBIs & 38 doubles. 

In the outfield he posted a .992 fielding % (4th in the NL) leading all outfielders with 345 out outs. The next year he hit 17 HRs with 66 RBIs batting .276. His numbers dropped during the 1997 season & that August he was traded to the New York Mets along with Turk Wendell & Mel Rojas in exchange for Lance Johnson, Mark Clark & Manny Alexander.

Mets Career: McRae debuted for the Mets on August 8th, he went 3-4 with a triple, a walk and RBI in a 9-7 loss to the Houston Astros at Shea Stadium. On August 23rd, he hit his first Mets HR coming in a 9-8 win over the Padres at Shea Stadium.

On August 27th he tripled & drove in two runs in a 15 Mets win over the San Francisco Giants at Shea Stadium. He doubled four times in six games going into early September. That month he hit HRs in three different games against the Phillies all leading to Mets wins.

Grand Slam: On September 20th, McRae hit a grand slam HR off the Marlins Alex Fernandez in the 1st inning of 7-3 Mets win in South Florida.

He closed out 1997 hitting .248 with 5 HRs 4 doubles & 15 RBIs for the Mets in 45 games. 

Trivia: During his days with the Mets, Brian’s favorite rock band was Metallica.

1998: After missing Opening Day, he went on to play in 159 games, as the clubs main centerfielder. In May he had four HRs & 19 RBI's including three multi RBI games where he drove in three runs each time.

In June he hit safely in 12 of 15 games. In the final week of that month, he hit four HRs driving in six runs gathering up seven hits. On June 22nd, he hit a HR against the Baltimore Orioles & then another in the subway series, both coming in Mets losses.

In mid-July, McRae hit HRs in back-to-back games against the Montreal Expos, leading New York to wins in both games at Shea Stadium. On July 12th, his HR off Javier Vazquez in the 6th inning put the Mets ahead 3-2 in a game they'd win 5-2. At the end of the month, he once again homered in back-to-back games, this time in Chicago & at home against the San Diego Padres. Overall, he hit 6 HRs that month with 18 RBIs. The Mets were three games behind in the wild card race at the end of July.

On August 6th, McRae hit his 17th HR of the year, off the Giants Orel Hershiser in the 6th inning. In the 9th with the Mets down 8-7 & two men on, McRae singled off Rob Nen to tie the game. Luis Lopez would win it with a walk off single two batters later. 

On August 14th, he hit a two run HR in Arizona helping the Mets to a 3-2 win. On August 31st, he drove in three runs with two RBI singles in an 8-3 win over the Dodgers in Los Angeles. The Mets entered September tied for a wild card spot.

The Mets made a run for the wild card race into the final week of September. On September 14th, McRae hit a 9th inning game tying two run HR off the Astros Billy Wagner in Houston. Later in the top of the 13th he put the Mets ahead with a double scoring Mike Piazza & Edgardo Alfonzo. He only drove in one run in his last 12 games as the Mets fell short of the wild card as well.

McRae ended the year leading the Mets in doubles (36) triples (5) & stolen bases (20). Personally, he posted career highs in HRs (21) & RBIs (79) while batting .264 with 80 walks & a .360 on base percentage.

1999 Wild Card Season:
  This year the Mets were a better team with more players who could play the outfield. McRae struggled in April batting just .197. 

In May he hit safely in 15 of 19 games raising up his average to .253. On May 1st, he hit a grand slam HR off the Giants' Jerry Spradlin, in a 9-4 Mets win at Shea. Two games later, he drove in two runs in the Mets four run 1st inning in a win over the Astros. On May 25th, he hit a three run HR in an 8-3 win at Pittsburgh.

At the start of June, McRae drove in a run in the first two games of the Subway series, although the Mets lost both of them. On June 9th, his double in the bottom of the 9th inning, off the Blue Jays Billy Koch, tied up a game against the Blue Jays. The Mets won it in extra innings on a Rey Ordonez walk off single.

On June 13th, he hit a two run HR against the Boston Red Sox Jim Cosi, helping the Mets to a 5-4 win. Three days later he broke a 6th inning tie with a two-run single in Cincinnati, driving in three runs in the Mets 5-2 win over the Reds. The next night McRae had an RBI single in a 4-3 win at St. Louis. 

On July 6th, he drove in three runs with a two run HR off Montreal's Carl Pavano in a 10-0 Mets shut out, combined by Orel Hershiser, Greg McMichael & Jason Isringhausen. On July 18th, he drove in two runs in an 8-6 win over the Orioles, then drove in runs in three straight games toward the end of the month.

On July 31st, after playing in 96 games he was only batting .220 with 8 HRs 36 RBIs & a .320 on base % . He was carrying a $3.5 million salary and the Mets decided he wasn’t in their future or in their playoff plans. McRae was traded to the Colorado Rockies for utility player, Daryl Hamilton. Hamilton would be a key role player in the Mets Wild Card run as well in the post season.

Mets Career Stats: In parts of three seasons, he played in 300 Mets games, batting .249 with 248 hits 34 HRs 53 doubles 8 triples 130 RBIs 137 runs scored 25 stolen bases & a .342 on base %.

A week later McRae was shipped to the Toronto Blue Jays, where he was their centerfielder but eventually lost his position to Vernon Wells. He was released and his career was over by 2000 at the age of 32.

Brian McRae played ten seasons batting .261 with 1336 hits 103 HRs 264 doubles 37 triples 493 walks a .360 on base % 532 RBIs & 196 stolen bases. In the outfield he played 1307 games with a .990 fielding % making 37 assists.

Retirement: After his playing days McRae moved into the broadcast booth. He first worked as a Chicago Cubs studio analyst. & then went to ESPN as a Baseball Tonight analyst. He also worked on MLB radio as well.  

McRae was also part owner of Radio station WHB 810 AM in Kansas City. He has coached at NAIA Park University in KC.

Charity: McRae works closely with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation charities.

Drama: In 2019 he faced multiple charges in an assault case involving his girlfriend at the time in an Arizona hotel.

Family: His father Hal McRae was born on July 10, 1945 in Avon Park, Florida. He was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in 1965 making it to the big leagues in 1968 for brief 17 games. He would spend three more seasons with the Reds, winning two pennants in the early days of the Big Red Machine, playing as a reserve outfielder.

McRae hit .248 with 8 HRs & 23 RBIs for the 1970 NL Champion Reds, playing in 70 games. He had a great World Series that year against the Baltimore Orioles batting .455 (5-11). In Game #2 he had two hits including an RBI double, then had another double driving in two more runs in Game #5.

McRae hit .278 with 5 HRs & 26 RBIs in the 1972 season, having another good World Series batting .444 (4-9) with two RBIs against the Oakland A’s. 

In November 1972 he was Traded by the Cincinnati Reds along with Wayne Simpson to the Kansas City Royals for Roger Nelson and Richie Scheinblum. 

McRae arrived in Kansas City just as the Royals were entering their best years.

He spent fifteen seasons there, winning a World Series in 1985, an AL Pennant in 1980 & six AL West titles. He would bat over .300 seven times, including a career best .332 in 1976 coming in second to teammate George Brett.

He would make three All Star teams, lead the league in doubles twice (1977 & 1982) RBIs once (1982) on base % once (1976) & hit by pitches once (1977). 

In the 1980 World Series he hit .375 against the Phillies & went 0-1 in the 1985 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. In his 19-year career McRae batted .290 with 2091 hits 484 doubles 66 triples 191 HRs 1097 RBIs & a .351 on base %.


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