"Baseball’s a huge part of my life and I do expect it to get into my music more at some point."
Practically every story or interview in a magazine has had something left out. Sometimes that's because some stuff just ain't all that interesting. But often it's just because there's not enough space. Hence, "Extras."
I interviewed American Idol winner Scotty McCreery for this week's issue of ESPN The Magazine. Scotty's also a senior at and a pitcher for Garner Magnet High School in North Carolina. Make sure to read the mag's version of the interview here. Below there are the extras, the stuff that got left out. Scotty breaks down what he throws—turns out the dude has a great mind for attacking batters—and he talks about why he chose to enroll at North Carolina State University next fall and what he'll study there. He also talks about what he prays before he pitches, how he got into baseball in the first place and how much it means to him, its impact on his music, and much more.
Quick thought about Scotty: He had a few pre-packaged answers like any other celebrity—which is totally fine; in today's world, with certain blogs and sites just dying to pounce on a misconstrued phrase, which can totally ruin your rep, you gotta be super careful—but once we got going about baseball, it was just a couple ballplayers talking the game. The kid really loves it. I mean, he's touring with Brad Paisley, finishing high school, and writing new music. And he still carves out time for baseball.
And he's good enough to be 2-0 with a 1.03 ERA right now. Rock on, McCreery.
Anyway. I know you care more about what Scotty has to say than me, so here's the interview. Enjoy.
So, how’s your role changed this year?
I’m used to being the one-two guy but we got a couple transfers that come in this year, and a couple guys that have been closing, so I’m just kind of taking a back seat this year. Moreso than years previous. But all is going well. I’m working hard at practice.
Is that just crazy to you, 100 people showing up from places like Maine just to watch you play baseball?
Yeah, it’s crazy seeing how—I mean, but they support us and I really appreciate them coming down and seeing the team and hopefully we get the W—but you know, it’s definitely a whole lot different than years past.
What’s this all been like for you? I mean, you’re this normal kid just working at Lowe’s Foods with a dream and now you have all this success—what’s all that been like, as far as high school and the baseball side of things, keeping that balanced with the music? Is that tough or just something you’ve learned to adapt to, not being able to put as much time into baseball as you have in the past? What’s that been like?
I think adapt would be a good word for it. Definitely been good but it has been a lot of changes and stuff. In years past I’d be at practice every single day. Now I might have a show or have to miss it or like this weekend, we had practice yesterday and I had to miss it because we worked our schedule around the ACM awards and all that.
Oh yeah, congrats on Best New Artist, man, that’s crazy.
Thank you, thank you, I appreciate it. I’m pretty pumped.
But it’s ah, I haven’t been able to put as much time into (baseball). And I can see why I’m not really playing a whole lot. Other guys are there every single day and stuff. But I’m still trying to put the work into it and put as much work into it as I can, because I can’t just go do something halfheartedly. I have to give it my best shot.
I imagine that’s gotta make it more fun, though. Having that big crowd out there.
Yeah, it’s nice. Definitely brings a more intense atmosphere. More people watching, the crowd gets into it, it gets loud out there.
You said you’ve played since you were a kid?
Been playing since I was about 5 years old. Started pitching when I was 8 or 9. My dad pitched in college some and he just kinda raised me to be that way. I was never the best hitter or fielder but I could always get by with my curveball.
Where’d your dad pitch?
Louisburg College, a little community college here in North Carolina. His pitching coach there is actually State’s head coach now, Elliot Avent, so that’s a cool connection to have.
So what all pitches do you throw?
I throw a two-seamer. I throw a slider that’s kind of more like a slurve, a slow slider with a little curve to it. Then I have a hard break curveball. My pitches are backwards. My curveball’s hard and my slider’s soft.
What’s, how have your coaches helped you with your schedule and everything? Because I know it’s got to be crazy, traveling, getting studio time in, practicing. So what have your coaches been like? How have they handled it with you?
Oh, they’ve been great. They’ve been absolutely incredible. On the road, they’re texting me support and wondering how I’m doing. And when I’m home from a tour or from being on the road, they treat me just like anybody else on the team. And I like that. I really do. I like getting treated just like everybody else.
Yeah, I’ve read, you tamp the mound and rake the dirt alongside everybody else. That’s cool. Seems like you’re a pretty normal guy. It’s not American Idol Scotty out there. You got people making their jokes, but you’re just a baseball player out there trying to win some games.
So what, how much time do you get to spend working on your game now? Throwing and, now, compared to before American Idol, what’s your routine like?
Well back in the day I could be at every single practice and I’d throw every day. Now every practice I’m at I’m throwing a bullpen and me and my dad we bring our gloves on the road. We make time to throw. But it doesn’t always work out because I’m busy and he’s working and stuff.
Where have been some of the more random places you’ve had to get a good toss in?
We threw in an arena. I think in Madison, Wisconsin we threw in a hallway. We’ve thrown in some random spots. We’ve thrown in the snow. I forget which city, but we were throwing out in the snow. Just to get out there and throw a little bit. Even if it’s not a baseball, we’ll throw a football and stuff, just to stay active. It’s fun having him out. I can’t really do that with my sister or my mom or one of the band guys but my dad’s always there to help me out.
What’s it been like, the whole local celebrity thing, around Garner, your hometown there. What’s that been like, going from Lowe’s Foods cashier Scotty to country music star Scotty?
It’s been cool. It’s definitely taking some getting used to, again. No matter where I go, if I’m out in public somewhere, just walking around the neighborhood, someone’s gotta stop and say hey or say we appreciate what you’re doing or we like your music. On that aspect it’s cool. It’s definitely been a little weird though having to watch myself, watch my back, because everybody’s watching me. It’s tough to really live free, because people are always kinda waiting for me to mess up. Or not waiting, but there’s always bound to be somebody watching.
How’s the school life now?
It’s been good, it’s been good. I was scared, going back initially, because I wasn’t sure how they’d react. But they’ve treated me like I never left and like I’m the same old kid. And that’s nice, really nice to have. I don’t have that anywhere else except this school. So. I enjoy it when I’m there.
And yeah, I saw that you’re going to State? What, why there? What’s the plan there?
I’m going to State to study marketing and either marketing or communications. To have something that helps with the music, but not necessarily be music. Because I’m in a music class every single day now. So I think that’d be a good fit.
Oh, cool, yeah, my wife’s in marketing and design and whatnot, she’s great and she loves it.
Baseball-wise, has this inspired any new songs or any new music for you, thinking about baseball and all that? Ever do anything for your music?
I’m sure it will, man. I’m looking to be doing this thing for awhile and writing songs and stuff, so if I keep writing about my life then baseball’s bound to pop up in there somewhere. There’s one line in one of my songs, “Better Than That"—"Baseball, summer nights," and different stuff like that. Yeah, baseball’s a huge part of my life and I do expect it to get into my music more at some point.
How do you feel when you take the mound? Butterflies? Got any routines or rituals or anything like that?
I mean, I always pray before every single inning. Go up there. But not really superstitious. Not that guy that’d go up there and break sticks or do a certain handshake or anything. That’s just not me.
What do you usually pray?
Oh, just that people see Him through me out there. To give me a good heart and not get too upset when something goes wrong because something’s always bound to happen.
So you’re on tour with Brad Paisley right now, what all else you got going on and coming up in the next few months to a year?
Well, I’m going back out on tour with Brad in May, and then after October I don’t really know what’s up. Probably some fairs and festivals. Maybe I’ll take it easy and just start the new record
All right. You got a favorite baseball team?
Yeah, Red Sox. My dad grew up in the Boston area so he sort of raised me up that way.
It was Nomar (Garciappara) and Pedro (Martinez) but they’re all out. Maybe 'Tek (former C Jason Varitek), but he’s out now. So now it’s Youk. (Kevin) Youkilis.
Awesome. Well thanks Scotty, that about wraps it for me, man. Good luck to you with everything.
Thanks man, this was fun.